Devils gut it out past Mustangs
Playing in its fourth game in eight days and with four of five starters fighting the flu, the Eagle Valley boys basketball team just wanted to win Tuesday against West Grand, so the Devils could go home and get some rest.
The Devils did pick up the win, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing, as the fatigued Devils did just enough to get past the Mustangs, 68-58.
“Playing four games in eight days caught up with us a little bit,” said Devils coach Phil Cain. “We got some illnesses to get over, too. But, you’ve got to give West Grand a lot of credit because they came out and they played hard.”
The Mustangs tried to muster up an upset all night long as guard Tyler Terryberry and center Max Ryan continued to knock down big shot after big shot to keep the Devils hustling.
Terryberry finished with a game-high 22 points, nine of which came off of 3-pointers. Ryan did most of his work in the paint, duking it out with Devils big men Cody Gerard and Dillon Barkman for 14 points.
The game was a see-saw contest which saw the Devils go up by as much as 10 early in the fourth quarter, only to have their lead sliced to five and then three as the Mustangs continued to bury open perimeter shots.
It looked as if the Devils might be in real trouble with a little more than two minutes to go in the game after Kevin Cruz turned the ball over to the surging Mustangs, who were down 59-56 at that point.
But after a Sean Bartlett steal that led to a Cody Gerard basket, the Devils could breath a little easier, with their lead back up to five.
The Mustangs didn’t flinch, though, as West Grand’s Travis Miller hoisted up another shot to pull back within three, again.
The Mustangs then refused to foul with the clock’s seconds preciously ticking away, hoping that Eagle Valley would force a bad pass and that they could go on the offensive.
Instead, the Devils continued to work the ball and finally found a wide open Cruz under the basket for the easy layup which put the game away.
Gerard knocked down two more free throws and Cruz hit one as well with 16 seconds left to go, before Barkman polished off the win with a huge dunk at the buzzer to put the exclamation point on a four-game win streak.
“We needed a close game like that,” said Cain.
Barkman finished with 15, Bartlett had 12 and Manuel Varela tallied eight points, including two 3-pointers in the third quarter which gave the Devils some much needed momentum.
“We were trying to play a little harder, but we were all feeling the flu,” said Varela. “The bench guys did a pretty nice job of stepping up to help us out.”
The Devils improved to 11-3 overall.
Lady Devils roll up West Grand in second half
The Eagle Valley girls basketball team didn’t show up for its game against West Grand Tuesday night.
Yes, there were players wearing Eagle Valley jerseys on the floor, but for nearly a quarter and a half it seemed as if the real Lady Devils had taken the night off and some substandard replacements had filled in – especially after West Grand took a one-point, 18-17 lead with about five minutes remaining in the first half.
Finally, after sloughing through the first 11 minutes of the game, the real Lady Devils showed up- or at least woke up – and when they did, the visiting Mustangs were in trouble. The Devils used an 11-2 run to close out the first half and a 17-2 run to start the third quarter, that sucked all the giddy-up out of the Mustangs and keyed Eagle Valley to a huge 67-39 win.
“We were kind of slow getting out of the gate,” said Lady Devils coach Mike Vidakovich. “We did pick things up a little bit in the second quarter, but West Grand continued to hit some outside shots. In the second half, we played almost entirely man-to-man. We felt like we could pressure them from the outside and underneath.”
Whatever adjustments the Devils made, they worked because, in the second half, the Devils looked as dominant as they were stagnant in the first.
As usual, Eagle Valley’s Kenzie Shreeve was a force, dropping 18 points in from the floor as well as adding another two from the free throw line. Unlike usual, though, was that Eagle Valley’s biggest second threat wasn’t senior point guard Trista Sandoval, but instead, sophomore guard Rachel Sandoval.
Sandoval, whose alias is “little sis with the swift wrist,” canned three 3-pointers against the Mustangs, including two back-to-back treys in the middle of the Devils’ big third-quarter run that put West Grand on the ropes.
She also shot 5-for-7 from the foul line on a night when the Devils went to the stripe 25 times, to finish with 14 points and a big compliment from her head coach.
“Rachel is quite a player,” said Vidakovich. “We’ve been kind of waiting for someone at the guard position to break through and I think Rachel did tonight. The other night in a JV game, she had six 3-pointers, so we’ve seen it in her. We saw it last year when she was a freshmen. Now, I think she is finally getting enough experience to where she can feel comfortable out there.”
Said Sandoval, “I just gave it my all, to prove to my coaches that I’m able to be out there. We were playing kind of sloppy and we weren’t giving it all until we finally decided to step it.”
The game wasn’t much of a contest after the Lady Devils took a 49-24 lead into the fourth quarter, but that didn’t mean the Devils let up. In the game’s last eight minutes, Stacie Santoro found her touch in the paint as well from the free-throw line to add six points. Whitney Donohue also took over the point duties from elder Sandoval for a bit and dished out assists to Shreeve, Santoro and Amanda Padilla, who finished with 6 points.
With the win, Eagle Valley improved to 8-6 overall.