Devils, Huskies split in Gypsum
GYPSUM – After Saturday’s loss to Rifle, Battle Mountain girls basketball coach Ernesto Arredondo was insistent on one thing. He wanted his team to get the ball to “our big man.””If they beat us with the 3, fine,” he said.Be careful what you wish for, Coach. In fact, that’s exactly what happened Tuesday night in Gypsum when Eagle Valley guards Rachel Sandoval and Amanda Padilla lit up the Huskies for 15 points each to overcome a 31-20 third-quarter deficit for a thrilling 43-41 win. “It’s like the best thing ever,” Sandoval said. “It feels really good.””It’s huge,” said Jamie Mayne, whose team moved to 1-2 in the 4A Slope and 2-7 overall. “They needed this win just to keep their morale up, to get them back into the heart of it, to get them excited about basketball again.” Huskies in chargeBattle Mountain was thoroughly in control of this one, ripping off an 11-0 run in the third quarter. Erica Lujan gave Battle Mountain its first lead of the game with 6:58 left in the third. Not surprisingly, it was Lauren Prewitt and Kaeli Hosler who did a lot of the damage.
Prewitt was a force in the paint with 19 points, six rebounds and eight blocks. Hosler was the perfect complement with 14 points of her own. But a defensive adjustment and a 3 at the end of the third by Sandoval signaled a change of momentum.”We put Amanda on Lauren to try to shut it down as far as getting passes into her, and it worked,” Mayne said. “It was good for us.”Battle Mountain scored just eight points in the final quarter. Meanwhile, Eagle Valley was starting to swarm. Hot DevilsSandoval popped two treys to start the fourth, pulling Eagle Valley within 35-31. Padilla knocked down a 3 to give Eagle Valley the lead, 36-35, with 4:42 left in the game. Hosler answered in kind.As the seconds ticked away, Padilla and Sandoval both struck from just inside the arc to put Eagle Valley ahead, 41-39, with 41 seconds to go. Sandoval then stole the ball on Battle Mountain’s next possession. Hosler was forced to foul, and Jeannette Baker iced the game with two free throws.”We knew we had to shoot. Our shots weren’t going in,” Padilla said. “We knew that we were down, and we knew that we had to do something about it. So Rachel and I and other teammates started shooting. We knew we couldn’t get down, and the game wasn’t over.”For the Huskies (0-3, 2-7), it was definitely a better performance than they had last weekend with big losses to Glenwood Springs and Rifle. Yet the lack of perimeter defense was the deciding factor.”We knew who was shooting the ball, and we just couldn’t get on them,” Arredondo said. “We were slow to get out there. We weren’t moving around. They shot the ball well. What can you say?”
Battle Mountain faces a stiff test at conference favorite Moffat County Friday at 6 p.m. The Devils are at Steamboat Springs Friday, also at 6 p.m. Huskies’ boys thrash DevilsYes, that really did happen Tuesday night.Battle Mountain boys basketball went down to Gypsum and thoroughly routed Eagle Valley, 83-40. Given the history of this rivalry, dominated recently by the Devils, forgive some people in the east end of the county for rubbing their eyes in disbelief.Or as Devils coach Pat Gabriel succinctly put it, “It was a spanking. Battle Mountain’s a good team.”This was absolutely no contest from the beginning. Battle Mountain’s Trent Beckley (26 points, 11 rebounds) and Connor Drumm (22 and 11) ran wild. When Drumm hit a trey at the buzzer, ending the first quarter with Battle Mountain leading, 20-4, Huskies’ fans could start the “Warm up the bus” chant.”When we come out with our starting five and Kyle Leffler coming off the bench, that’s six kids as good as a lot of people are going to see when we’re on all cylinders,” Huskies coach Phil Tronsrue said. “Now, you’ve got to think back. It was just five nights ago when we played Glenwood Springs and we lost by 10. That’s two different teams. The way we played against Rifle the first half Saturday night and the way we played tonight, I’ll tell you what, we’re running on all cylinders when we play like that.”With the win, Battle Mountain moved to 2-1 in the Slope and 8-2 overall.
“It felt great,” said Derek “Don’t call me Bear Barkman” Rush, as he was announced in the pregame introductions. “Last year when they beat us at the buzzer at our place, we just wanted it so bad. And Glenwood getting to us, we just wanted this game really bad.” BalanceBattle Mountain’s opponents know about Beckley and Drumm. The good signs for Huskies Hoops Nation are two things. The Huskies’ perimeter game is heating up, and they’re starting to play good defense.As for the former, exhibit A can be found in the play of Rush and Kyle Leffler. Both put up nine points in the combined form of six 3s.”That’s the main thing,” Rush said. “If Trent’s down low and they double-team, Trent, he does a great job of kicking it out. If they double-down on Connor, he does a great job kicking it out. Our job is just to hit a few 3s here and there to keep them honest.”That they did. It seemed contagious.”Everyone was stroking,” Leffler said. “We knew nobody could stop our 3s.”The Huskies were also stifling defensively.”Guys stepped up and made some big shots and we were patient offensively,” Tronsrue said. “We took good looks and we played some solid defense. I don’t know what they had at halftime.”
That would be all of 12 points. Battle Mountain led, 44-12, at intermission. Next upBattle Mountain likely floated back to Eagle-Vail Tuesday night after the win. They key will be to get ready for Moffat County in Craig Friday night at 7:30.”We talk all the time that everybody’s going to be coming for us,” Tronsrue said. “We want to step up to the challenge. We want to play big games. I expect us to play this way every night. You can’t get full of yourself. Moffat County doesn’t care about what we did tonight. On Friday night, they’re going to want to get after us.”Eagle Valley, at 0-3 in the Slope, will try to turn things around at Steamboat Springs Friday at 7:30 p.m. “Our job is not just to beat Battle Mountain,” Gabriel said. “Our job is to get better every day. That’s what we’re working on.” Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 14630, or at email@example.com.Vail, Colorado