Devils win thriller, 76-74, over Bears
GYPSUM — All Eagle Valley’s Tony Hernandez does is sink game-winning free throws.
After Eagle Valley boys basketball coach Chris Walls joked about Hernandez’ nose for the ball by saying about his junior, “All he does is go to the ball,” during a win against Summit County on Tuesday, Jan, 9, Hernandez sank two free throws with 8.8 seconds left against Rifle on Thursday, Jan. 11, to give the Devils a thrilling 76-74 win over the Bears in Gypsum.
“That was a pretty exciting game,” Hernandez said. ”It’s like coach said. ‘We’re on this mountain, and now it’s our goal to peak. We’re taking the steps to peak.”
And, after a 2-8 December, the Devils are 2-0 in the 4A Western Slope.
After trailing by as much as much as 16 during the first half, Eagle Valley (4-8) started chipping away during the second half. Eagle Valley got to within 52-48 at the end of the third. Chalk it up to persistence.
“We took another step tonight in our development,” Walls said. “We faced some deficits before, but tonight we were able to finish it off.”
Down 68-59, Raul Pereida had started heating up his 3-stroke. On his way to 25 points before fouling out late, Pereida sank one from downtown and, seconds later, sunk two from the charity stripe.
With 2:52 left in the game, Carlos Quezada pumped a 3 to close it to 68-67. With 1:46 remaining, Pereida sunk a 17-footer to tie it at 69. Rifle came back with Jacob Seeman 3 for a 72-69 advantage.
Eagle Valley senior Jesse Mosre answered with his own trey 17 seconds later for the tie. Pereida took his fifth foul, blocking Rifle’s Blake Swasey with 1 minute left. Swasey sunk both of his free throws.
The Devils appeared to be working the clock off, and maybe looking for the game-winning 3, but Hernandez streaked into the paint, got the pass and lay-in with 15 seconds left to tie at 74.
Hernandez then stole the inbound pass and got fouled, sending him to the line.
“The adrenaline was rushing, for sure,” Hernandez said. “It’s a lot of pressure, but if you concentrate on the task, everything goes easy.”
He got swishes on both and Rifle’s last gasp 3-attempt missed, sending the Devils rushing onto the court.
Bears cruise in lidlifter
Rifle’s Elly Walters will be graduating this spring.
That’s good news for Eagle Valley basketball and, well, most of Colorado.
The Rifle senior and her Bears teammates had their way on Thursday, Jan. 11, defeating Eagle Valley, 49-24.
Rifle left Gypsum with a 9-1 record overall a 3-0 mark in the 4A Western Slope.
The Devils (2-10, 0-2) were in this one for about a quarter. A Regan Bossow jumper closed Rifle’s lead to 10-9 with 2:17 left in the first period.
And then Walters knocked down the first of her two 3s on Thursday. The Bears’ Masi Smith added a layup to extend Rifle’s lead to 15-9 at the end of the first eight minutes.
Katy Manuppella started the second off right for Rifle and Walters followed with another bomb from downtown. Throw in a 3-point play from Smith and Rifle had scored 13 points in a row for a 23-9 advantage.
The Bears made it a rout with 15-2 run during the third quarter.
The good news was the Eagle Valley held Walters under her season average of 18 points per game — she had 13. But Smith also had 16 and Manuppella 12 for the victorious Bears. Bossow led Eagle Valley with 11 points.
Both sets of teams are on the road on Saturday, Jan. 13. The Bears are in Montrose, while the Devils continue league play at Glenwood Springs.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.