Devils boys take second round
EAGLE-VAIL – Dribbling through chants of “air ball” and a deficit that lasted the entire second half, Eagle Valley boys basketball had the last laugh Saturday, beating Battle Mountain 50-49.It all happened in the final second of the game. Everything for the Devils, that is.Eagle Valley led the first period 13-8, with a well-placed jump shot from Kevin Cruz with seconds remaining. But Battle Mountain stole the show going into the second quarter. Trent Beckley and Connor Drumm each scored while being fouled and both were 50 percent on free throws. Clint Wilson added two more points on a jump shot and Beckley tied it, 13-13, after a foul and sinking another one from the line. He followed up for the Huskies’ first lead with another field goal on the rebound.
Vincent Cisneros scored among a swarm of hands which drew a foul, after which he put another point on the board. The intensity continued when Battle Mountain’s Derek Rush ended up on his back during a foul and went 2-for-2 on free throws. Eagle Valley’s Cody Fackler put up a scoop on a rebound to score and John Gabriel followed up shortly with a swish. Battle Mountain fought back with an attack from Rush and Beckley and, after an offensive standoff that lasted two minutes, Drumm sank another one to close out the half with the lead, 26-17.The Devils fought hard in the third quarter, finishing off by closing the gap significantly with a 3-pointer from Cody Gerard with 20 seconds remaining. Battle Mountain wouldn’t have it, and Rogelio Loya put one up for 3 as the buzzer sounded and the Huskies held the lead 40-32 going into the fourth quarter.
Gabriel launched in with the first field goal, which Beckley promptly returned. Then, Cruz stole the ball and blasted down court for another bucket and Andy Johnson danced around the box and sank a 3-point swish that left the Devils trailing, 42-40.Gabriel scored a couple more and Cruz put one in for the lead, 45-44. Wilson scored again and Drumm sank a 3-pointer from the outside. Fackler answered two, as the Devils trailed 49-48 with 44 seconds remaining. Battle Mountain played it safe and drew a foul, but failed to score on the free throw with 13 seconds remaining. The Devils nabbed the rebound to fire the ball down court, where it ended up in the sweaty but capable hands of Fackler. He was jostled around but jumped up for the shot, the ball falling through the net as the final buzzer sounded. He said the hoop was the most exciting in his young career and that before it happened, there was only one thing on his mind.”Just make it,” he said. “Just make it … that’s the only thing that was going through my mind. Yeah, we needed this one. It was awesome.”
Fackler tallied 11 points in the game and Cruz was the Devils’ top scorer with 20. Beckley had 13 points for the Huskies and Drumm had 11. Battle Mountain coach Phil Tronsrue chalked up his team’s last-minute loss to free-throw failures.”That was the difference in the game,” he said. “We didn’t make our free throws.”The Huskies missed 14 throughout the game and Tronsrue said his team can expect to be shooting from the line for a good part of this week’s practice.”They played a gallant game,” he said of Eagle Valley. “They kept fighting back the whole night. This kind of game is intense. The crowds are into it. The teams are into it. Unfortunately, you don’t like to be on the short end of it. The Cruz kid and the Gerard kid, they’re big players. Fackler, he stepped up tonight. I have a lot of respect for Eagle Valley. We took one from them a couple weeks ago, and we hadn’t taken one from them in years. I knew they’d come back. Our guys knew they’d come back. Our kids played a good game; their kids played a good game. We’re going to be shooting some free throws this week.”Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or email@example.com.