Devils stun Bulldogs in Palisade |

Devils stun Bulldogs in Palisade

Special to the Daily/Buddy BairEagle Valley's Cesar Castillo had a game-high 24 points in the Devils' 60-58 win at Palisade.

PALISADE, Colorado ” For the doubters among you, take this ” Eagle Valley boys basketball is back in contention for a state-playoff appearance.

Although the Devils head coach Pat Gabriel is little guarded when it comes to that subject, he and the team feel a lot more confident heading into the home stretch of Western Slope play after edging Palisade, 60-58, Saturday.

“We are in good shape. But the league right now is kind of wide open. But tonight helped us,” Gabriel said of a schedule where three of the teams Eagle Valley’s chasing come to Gypsum.

Cesar Castillo rejuvenated the Devils’ (4-5 and 5-11 overall) playoff hopes when he stole the ball from Palisade guard Benedict Seebode at midcourt, then scored to tie the game at 58 with 6.6 seconds left. The junior guard broke the deadlock when he sank a free throw after Seebode was called for a technical foul after arguing with the referee on the play.

Then Castillo added a dab of insurance, scoring the last of his game-high 24 points, by hitting one of two more free throws when Palisade’s Jeremy Hayden deliberately fouled the nearest Devil on the inbounds pass after being awarded the ball on the technical.

Gabriel said the win came on Eagle Valley’s ability to play defense.

“We are not as good a shooting team as Palisade is. Our kids are good shooters. But we really have to earn our bread-and-butter on defense. In the last 1.8 seconds, they had an opportunity to score, but we defended and stopped the opportunity.”

Making stops when Eagle Valley needed to came up throughout the game. Palisade was held to 14 points in the first quarter. After allowing Palisade to take a 31-27 lead at the half, the Devils’ defense reemerged.

Eagle Valley held Palisade to single point for seven minutes of the third quarter by making the Bulldogs miss their first 11 straight shots until Blake Duckworth hit Palisade’s only field goal in the quarter.

On offense, the Devils responded by scoring 10 points. Scott House sparked the 10-1 run, which opened a 39-32 lead with three field goals. Fittingly, the 6-foot-5 senior had a hand in the Devils’ other basket of the spurt when he spotted Castillo with a pass inside the paint.

Unfortunately, there was more than a quarter left when the run fizzled out. Palisade erased the seven-point deficit back to 50-50 on two Blake Duckworth free throws after Zack Ramsey committed his fifth personal foul with 3:27 left.

The Bulldogs took the lead twice in the next two-plus minutes on a Seebolt layup and the second of Jeremy Hayden’s 3-pointers before Castillo saved the day.

The win set-ups a now critical game to the Devils’ playoff aspirations Friday at home with Rifle after Tuesday’s last regular-season road game at Glenwood Springs.

Lady Devils fall

PALISADE – With Emily Kingston to build from, the future of the Eagle Valley girls basketball team is bright.

Unfortunately, the time needed the sophomore guard and the rest of the team’s underclassmen to mature the Devils are taking their lumps.

Kingston scored 13 of Eagle Valley’s 29 total points in a 36-point blowout loss to Palisade Saturday.

At the same time, Bulldogs seniors Sarah Hays and Bernadette Pitre took advantage of Eagle Valley’s inexperience to score 33 points between them in the 55-29 win that extended the Devils’ losing streak to eight-straight games.

And, put Eagle Valley (1-8, Western Slope League, 2-14 overall) in a mode to seriously begin aiming for improvement for the 2008-09 season.

At first Palisade distanced themselves tamely. The Bulldogs held a less than comfortable 10-5 at the end of the first quarter.

What was disturbing, at least to Eagle Valley, was the team’s shooting percentage in the period. Kingston was the only Devil to score. The first of her, and the team’s five points came in the game’s first possession when after missing a shot.

Her second field goal came five minutes later. As a team, Eagle Valley was 2-of-9 from the floor.

The Devils shooting percentages worsened as the game progressed. In the next two quarters, Eagle Valley made just 5-of-21 field goal tries for a total output of 15 points.

On the opposite end of the court, Palisade was feasting off Eagle Valley’s inability to play defense. In the same stretch, the Bulldogs hit on 13-of-32 shots for 33 points for a insurmountable 44-16 lead.

Pitre, who finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds, did most of her scoring in the first half. Hays took over in the latter two quarters, scoring 12 of her game-best 19 in the second half.

Eagle Valley has games on tap with two playoff contenders next week. On Tuesday, the Devils face Slope co-leader Glenwood Springs in the sendoff game of their 50-plus year old gymnasium before coming home Friday for a tilt with Rifle.

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