Devils, Huskies complete sweeps
EAGLE-VAIL – Until they meet again in 2008, the Eagle Valley boys’ basketball team and the Battle Mountain lady cagers have staked their claim as Eagle County champions. Both teams made it a season sweep over their archrivals Thursday night in Eagle-Vail. The Devils boys topped Battle Mountain, 71-57, while the Lady Huskies bested Eagle Valley, 53-49.While both games were closer than when the Devils and Huskies met in Gypsum last month, Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain got their respective brooms out Thursday.”It definitely feels good that our team, which was pretty young last year, could get a couple. We didn’t do so well last year,” said Eagle Valley’s Mike Smith, referring to the fact that the Huskies pounded the Devils twice last season. “I don’t know. All the credit to the team.””It feels good. It’s about time,” Huskies senior Kelsey Sanders said. “There’s a lot of motivation. For years, we’ll be saying we beat you twice.”
Having beaten Battle Mountain, 89-58, earlier this season, the Eagle Valley boys’ 14-point win in Round 2 could have been seen as a bit more dramatic.Not really.True, Battle Mountain made it a game in the third quarter, but the Devils controlled things all evening.”I think (Battle Mountain’s) kids play hard,” Devils coach Pat Gabriel said. “I think (Huskies coach) Phil (Tronsrue) knew that losing the kids they lost last year that they were going to have to rebuild a bit. We’re kind of rebuilding, too. I think we both understand how hard it is to get just a little bit better in this league. It was good to get out of here with a win.”
It’s also good to have Smith leading the way with 21 points, followed by Danner Bartlett (19) and Bear Barkman (14).Eagle Valley came out slowly in the shooting department, allowing Battle Mountain an early lead. The Devils built up a 39-24 cushion at the half before the Huskies drew within seven in the fourth quarter.”I told the guys I was really pleased the way we came out in the third quarter,” Tronsrue said. “We came out and knocked it down to six, I think. (sic) I also thought we ran out of steam. I think that was because I had the guys out on the floor the whole quarter. We got a little crazy a few times and jacked up some shots instead of looking for something good.”When Battle Mountain’s Zach Adamson, who led all scorers with 23, pulled his team to within 56-49 with 5:44 left in the game, it was Smith who responded with a bucket.”He’s really hard to guard,” Gabriel said. “He’s really quick. He’s got a good game.”Battle Mountain didn’t help itself as things were getting tight. The Huskies’ T.J. Simpson fouled out just after Smith scored and clapped on his way to the bench. That drew the Huskies’ second technical of the night – the first went to Gus Everly for some ill-chosen words in the first half.
“I told the guys it’s totally inappropriate,” Tronsrue said. “I don’t want the emotional outbursts on the floor.”Meanwhile, Eagle Valley smartly kept its composure and finished off the Huskies.”We stuck to our game plan,” Smith said. “Our team did really well. We executed everything we practiced. The team just took it home.”Eagle Valley moved to 6-13 overall and 5-7 in the Slope. Battle Mountain, which also got 21 points form Ashlin Romero, fell to 0-20 and 0-12.
Turnovers have been the key for both Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley girls’ basketball this season and Thursday was no different.Eagle Valley was storming back late in the third quarter, trailing just 42-38. With seconds remaining in the period, Battle Mountain’s Kaeli Hosler picked of an inbounds pass and dumped in the lay-in as the buzzer sounded in essence turning back Eagle Valley.”I wasn’t thinking about it at the time,” Hosler said. “I just went up. I knew that we had to get points up on the board.””We keep improving,” Devils coach Ken Reagan said. “It’s just those times when we need to take care of the ball. That’s been our whole thing – turnovers. Three fewer turnovers and five more points would get us there.”We made a pass across the key we shouldn’t have made and she stole it and ended the third quarter with a bang. That brought them into the fourth quarter and they came out on top in the end.”Eagle Valley’s Jeanette Baker was rallying her team with her strong play in paint with a team-high 19 points. But Hosler’s nab sapped the momentum away.
“We had an incident like that against Rifle when they scored during the waning minutes,” Huskies coach Andrew Schmid said. “It took the wind out of our sails. I think it might have had the same effect on Eagle Valley to an extent. That was just huge.”Battle Mountain, behind 17 from Hosler and 10 from Sanders, led 17-9 at the end of one and 32-25 at the half on its way to a season sweep. “It is special, especially for our seniors,” Schmid said. “It’s kind of sad to see the other seniors on the other side of the spectrum devastated because they lost, but like they say, it’s better us than them.”Battle Mountain (4-16, 3-9) hosts Moffat County at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, followed by the boys at 7. Also on Saturday, Eagle Valley (1-18, 0-10) has Steamboat Springs at 6:30 p.m, with the boys tipping at 8 in Gypsum. It’s Senior Night for both Eagle County schools. Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.