Devils jump in, down Sailors
GYPSUM – Now, we have a race, folks.
Steamboat Springs boys basketball stated its intentions with a 61-43 thumping of Glenwood Springs on Jan. 6. Palisade has thrown down markers with wins against Eagle Valley and Glenwood Springs in the last week.
And now the Devils are in the ring with an emphatic 57-39 win against Steamboat Springs Saturday afternoon in Gypsum.
“This is huge, two in a row after a little slump,” said the Devils’ Sam Lounsberry, referring to a weekend sweep of Moffat County and the Sailors. “We went 2-4 in our last six games previous to this weekend. It was big.”
“Big win, massive win, so big,” add Eagle Valley coach Brent McConaghy.
And the hits keep coming for both teams. After a nonconference tilt at Rifle Tuesday, the Devils (8-4 overall, 3-1 in the Slope) host Glenwood Springs Thursday. Meanwhile, the Sailors (6-7, 2-1) do the Delta-Palisade two-step Friday and Saturday at home.
And, by the way, the Devils go north for the rematch with the Sailors on Feb. 4.
In the meantime, Eagle Valley gets to savor its biggest win in years – and certainly in McConaghy’s year-plus with the program.
“I thought Eagle Valley played really well,” Sailors coach Luke DeWolfe said. “I thought their pressure definitely took us out of what we wanted to do, made us turn the ball over. In the end, that was probably the difference.”
Eagle Valley led, 27-19, at the half, but really put the clamps down defensively in the second half, holding Steamboat to just 10 points from the beginning of the third quarter to halfway through the fourth.
“We did a great job of getting the ball to the high post, and when we got the ball there, we had a lot of high-low action,” McConaghy said. “More importantly we had a lot of high skips to the back side for 3s. Once that started happening, they had to react to our athleticism.”
And that cracked the nut that is the usually-impervious Sailors defense. Lounsberry led the Devils with 16, while Tim Wells had 13, but the unsung hero of this game was junior Ryan Werner, who, who along with Cooper Senn, helped deny the Sailors the paint.
“Ryan Werner was magnificent,” McConaghy said. “I think he was one of our best players tonight.”
Carter Kounovsky led the Sailors with 14 points.
“We need to learn how to play when we’re down and our backs are against the wall, how to thrive under adversity,” said DeWolfe, whose teams always seem to be in the mix of the Slope race. “If we can learn to come together as a team and play as a unit, when we’re down by 8-10 points, then I think we’re good.”
As for Eagle Valley?
“We (can celebrate) until Monday morning at 11 a.m. when we practice and it’s on to Rifle,” Lounsberry said.
Sailors ladies nip Devils
It was in no way and artistic victory, but the Sailors and coach John Ameen will take it.
The Sailors hung on for a 37-33 win Saturday afternoon against the Eagle Valley girls basketball team.
“Our defense for the most part saved us this game,” Ameen said. “I thought in the second and third quarter, our offense was very good, and in the fourth, we didn’t close it … But a win’s a win.”
Ameen listed a lack of rebounding, successful free-throw shooting, and his team’s inability to deal with the Devils’ press in the fourth quarter in post game. There was a lot of self-flagellation on both sides, truth be told.
Eagle Valley had a 4-2 lead after one quarter, which is better than the alternative, but Devils coach Sam Bartlett still wanted to see more from his offense. While both teams struggled from the charity stripe, the Devils were just 7-for-18 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, which is a killer in a four-point ball game.
Senior Sydney Bauknecht led the Sailors (8-6, 2-1) with 11 points, while Taylor Martin had eight for Eagle Valley (3-9, 0-4)
“There are teams we can beat and it’s hard when one gets away from us like this,” Bartlett said. “It’s happened against Coal Ridge. It’s happened against Palisade, and we can’t hang our heads. We have to battle the adversity, take advantage of being at home. We have to mature and become the team we can be, playing for each other.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.
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