Eagle Valley girls basketball team rolls to victory over Grand Junction | VailDaily.com

Eagle Valley girls basketball team rolls to victory over Grand Junction

Devils begin 2022 with 51-29 home win

Josie Fitzsimmons hits a free throw at Eagle Valley High School on Tuesday night. The Devils won 51-29 over the visiting Grand Junction Tigers.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

The traffic on I-70 Tuesday night was a muddled, slow-moving mess. Meanwhile, in the Eagle Valley gymnasium, the Devils girls basketball team was anything but sluggish.

“At the end of the day, if we don’t have to set up a half-court offense, we’re happy,” head coach Vinny Cisneros said about the team’s aggressive tenacity on both ends of the floor. The frantic tempo and full-court trapping press forced the visiting Grand Junction Tigers into a nonvehicle mess of discombobulated congestion in the nonconference match-up. Combined with the run-and-gun offensive approach, the home team rolled to a 51-29 victory and moved to 3-5 on the year.

“If we can get live-ball turnovers and easy buckets in transition, than that’s what we’re going for. We’re trying to find an identity of being more aggressive,” the head coach said.

“Three of the wins that we’ve had we really showed our instincts in the press — jumping the passing lanes and things like that.”

Cisneros noted a lack of energy in the back-and-forth opening half, which ended with the Devils holding a slim 22-17 lead.

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“We had some rust to shake off,” the coach lamented about the team’s first game back from the holiday break. With only 13 games in the COVID-19-shortened 2021 season, the second-year coach is being patient as his system gets implemented.

“We’re still learning, plain and simple. We’re still trying to learn how to play the system we’ve created for our players.”

Cisneros’s crew increased the overall speed of the game to start the third quarter. Sophomore Josie Fitzsimmons drilled a 3-pointer to make it 25-19. Senior Jasmine Fontana nailed a short jumper on the next possession, then found Fitzsimmons for a 14-footer off of an out-of-bounds play a minute later to make it 30-19. Lauren Hauseman’s putback and-1 with 17-seconds to go in the quarter made it 34-23 and all but officially deflated the visiting squad.

“She was really big for us tonight,” Cisneros said of Fontana, who contributed 14 points to the cause.

“Her defensive instincts all night long played a big role in the success that we had. She was able to be aggressive on the offensive end because of her aggressiveness on the defensive end.”

Defensive tenacity, which leads to offensive opportunity, is a theme the coach is hoping to instill into the culture of his program.

“What we’re trying to instill in them is that our defense needs to generate our offense, and I think they’re starting to get more comfortable with that,” Cisneros said.

Eagle Valley kept Grand Junction uncomfortable with its full-court trap, holding the Tigers to just six third-quarter points. Grand Junction didn’t score until starters for both teams retired for the evening with 3:44 to go and the score 47-23.

Fitzsimmons went 9-for-10 from the free throw line and finished the night with 16 points to lead all scorers.

“She holds herself to a high standard,” Cisneros said about the sophomore guard.

“It’s that high standard that puts her in a position to succeed. She’s very intense; she’s got a great motor.”

While the coach is hoping the team can improve in finding the weak-side open player on offense, he’s happy about the maturation he’s observed from his court general.

“She’s come a long way from last year,” he said about Fitzsimmons’s growth.

“I think the game is starting to slow down a bit for her. She’s seeing the things that we’re trying to get her to see, and she’s been aggressive and attacking.”

Eagle Valley travels to Grand Valley to face the Cardinals on Thursday night at 5:30 p.m.

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