Devils girls pull the upset against Palisade
GYPSUM — It began with Eagle Valley and it ended with Eagle Valley.
Palisade girls basketball came to Gypsum with a 33-game winning streak within the 4A Western Slope, dating back to Feb. 14, 2014, and the Devils snapped it with a stunning 35-32 upset of the two time defending conference champions on Friday night.
“It’s phenomenal, especially with how frustrated we were with such a late start coming out of the break. I had no idea it was 33,” Devils coach Sam Bartlett said. “We focus on what we do every day in practice. We’ve had single-digit losses and heartbreakers over the years (to Palisade). It definitely feels good.”
And in a fun touch of irony, Palisade started that 33-game run with a win over Eagle Valley down in Palisade back in 2014.
“It’s awesome,” said Devils senior Cassie Jaramillo, who was just one of many heroes wearing Eagle Valley white on Friday. “I was so happy with the way we played. We were a team.”
And Friday’s win was all about defense — slow down the Bulldogs (12-2 overall and 3-1 in the Slope) and make each possession count on the other end. The insightful statistic of the game was that Eagle Valley allowed one point in the fourth quarter. That will generally do it.
With 1:06 left in the third quarter, Palisade led Eagle Valley (8-5, 1-1), 31-26. The Bulldogs had done a very good job in keeping the defensive clamps on Kylie Martin, but she scored with 25 seconds left in the third to make it 31-28.
Palisade seemed ready to take its time in the fourth quarter — its first possession ate more than a minute — but the Devils’ defense was patient and eventually got the ball. The Bulldogs weren’t letting Martin score inside, so she went to the 3-ball to tie it with 4:47 left in the game.
In a very physical game, Eagle Valley had the advantage in fouls down the stretch. Taylor Hermosillo was cooler than the other side of the pillow with 3:10 left, sinking both of her shots from the charity stripe for a 33-31 lead.
In a nail-biting final few minutes, Eagle Valley kept on coming up with the stops.
“I can’t say enough about any of them. It started with defense. The communication was unbelievable,” Bartlett said. “It didn’t seem like they even needed to look at each other to do it. They just knew what they were doing. To get that kind of chemistry on the defensive end against Palisade is unbelievable.”
Though the Devils had a few scary moments in trying to inbound the ball in the final minute, Jaramillo went to the line with 19.6 ticks to go.
“It was intense,” she said. “I just tried to stay calm.”
She sank them both and the Devils got a final stop on defense, igniting a raucous celebration.
“This could be a turning point in establishing the identity we had,” Bartlett said.
To that end, both Eagle Valley teams host Glenwood Springs on Monday at 5:30 and 7 p.m. in a make-up of one of two snowouts earlier this month.
Boys get first league win
Oh, yeah, the Eagle Valley boys basketball team also won on Friday night against Palisade, 65-40.
In a good sign for the Devils (8-5, 1-1), they put this one away early, racing out to a 19-6 first-quarter lead and never looking back. As much as everyone affiliated with Eagle Valley basketball doesn’t want to use the lack of playing time between the holiday break and ensuing snowouts as an excuse, it played a role in an 0-2 start to the 2017 calendar year.
And the rust, by and large, appears to be off.
“We’re definitely getting back into the rhythm,” Devils coach Chris Walls said. “I think we’re starting to shake the rust in some areas. In other areas, we still have some things to work on. There are always things to do.”
In full view of archrival Battle Mountain, which was in Gypsum on Friday night for some scouting — the two teams play here on Tuesday — Eagle Valley came out running and looked much like its pre-break self.
Jimmy Murphy, Garrett Martin, Jesus Loera and Dre Lozano all got in on the action, which was capped by an Arturo Loera 3 at the buzzer with some style points for his slow walk to the bench afterward.
Palisade (3-11, 2-2) closed to within 40-32 at the end of the third quarter. Never fear, though, Arturo Loera canned another 3, followed by a slick feed to Jesus Loera for a dunk. Dawson Keller then sank two free throws and added a big block as part of a 7-0 run to start the fourth.
“We stuck to what we wanted to do. It was effective when we did it the right way. When we got lazy or complacent, it didn’t. We still stuck to the grind, made some adjustments and glad to pull it out by pulling away.”
Martin led the Devils with 17 points, while Jesus Loera had 15 and Arturo Loera 12.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.