Devils rebound for win against Palisade Bulldogs
GYPSUM – It was a must-win and the Devils mustered one.
Less than 24 hours after a disheartening loss in Delta, the Eagle Valley boys basketball team handed Palisade its first Slope loss of the season, 60-46, Saturday afternoon in Gypsum.
“We knew we had to get a win,” said Devils assistant coach Jim Bair who did postgame for coach Brent McConaghy, who had to attend a family matter. “It was a must-win for us to keep our dreams alive. (Palisade’s) got some great talent. They’re very aggressive. We came out and performed tonight. Give this one to the boys.”
Palisade, at 6-1, still leads the League, but the Devils and Delta, which dispatched Battle Mountain Saturday, are at 6-2. Just in case you’re wondering, Delta’s at Palisade on Feb. 14, and the Devils are rooting for the Panthers to make this a three-way tie.
Of course, Eagle Valley (12-5) needs to take care of its own business in the meantime. The Devils did so Saturday. Both teams were sluggish in the first quarter, looking like they had had a long bus rides to get to Gypsum, which, in fact, was the case.
The Devils’ Jeremy Sabo seemed to give his team a lift when he tipped in a shot from the right side at the buzzer at the end of the first quarter.
“That was pretty cool,” Sabo said. “That’s just something that we all know to do. It just happens.”
The Devils took the lead for good with a 14-5 run to end the half. Sabo got it going with a layup on a sweet feed from Tim Wells. Sam Lounsbery and Daniel Vargas knocked down buckets and then Wells went on one of his patented bursts. No. 5 scored eight-straight points, including two 3s as the Devils led 29-21 at the break.
The Bulldogs and Devils play a similar style – heavy-duty pressing, big guys inside and players who can hit from beyond the arc.
“I actually enjoy it,” said Sabo, who had 15 points. “We can just play at the same level of speed and it’s just whoever can play better.”
That turned out to be Eagle Valley, though Palisade was a stubborn bunch. The Bulldogs, led by 23 points from Kane Gunther, got to within three points in the third quarter. The Devils closed in the fourth behind a 3-point play from Cooper Senn, two free throws from Ayren Hart and another Wells six-point run.
Wells led the Devils with 17 points, and 14 of them came in around four minutes of combined action. The thing is when a player gets hot like that, opposing defenses will key on him. So on the Devils’ next possession, Wells drove to the hole and sent it out to Juan Baca, who buried the 3 for 51-35 advantage.
“It felt really good to play that efficiently, to flow like that,” Sabo said. “We were all just shooting the ball really well and our defense was outstanding.”
Palisade tops Lady Devils
A 20-7 run by Palisade in the second quarter did in the Eagle Valley girls basketball team, 42-30, Saturday afternoon.
“I think we’re struggling with our confidence in each other,” Devils coach Sam Barlett said. “We have to have to have more confidence in each other, so that we can put each other in a situation to succeed. A lot of the time I feel like we’re not on the same page as a team. Then it becomes five individuals on the court, instead of one unit.”
Cori Cramer led the Devils with 10 points.
The Devils have a pair of nonconference games Tuesday at home against Central at 5:30 and 7 p.m.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.
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