Fore, part III: The best games of 2016-17 |

Fore, part III: The best games of 2016-17

Battle Mountain's Devin Huffman is a slams it down against Eagle Valley in a 49-45 win overtime win against the Devils.
Chris Dillmann | Daily file photo |

The series

We’re wrapping up the 2016-17 season, also known as the sports editor gets ready to go on a golf vacation, with the following columns:

Thursday: Freud’s favorite moments of the year.

Friday: The best of 2016-17.

Today: The best games of the year.

Sunday: Freud gives a graduation speech.

There are days I look at the crowd and ask myself, “I am paid to be here, but why is everyone else here?”

Yes, a lot of my job is making pearls from swine. “Battle Mountain football put forth a valiant effort in a 56-0 loss to Palisade.”

And then there are the games you never saw coming. You find yourself at an epic or with a finish that should make SportsCenter. This is why I sit through some less-than-stellar moments.

As Operation Freud Packs for Golf continues, a look at the most memorable games of the year.

Dec. 2

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Battle Mountain boys basketball at Vail Christian

OK, this wasn’t a very good game. The Huskies won, 73-41. But look at it from my perspective, there was no Audi Birds of Prey this year, so I got to watch this game for once. (There is merit to being inside a heated gymnasium instead of outside on a snowy mountain.)

The conclusion was the Huskies were going to be great and Vail Christian was in for a long year.

Please remember this in August when the fall teams start again and you lose or win your opener. The Huskies looked terrific, but they never got that outside-inside balance again after the first weekend, though they will make another appearance in this column.

Meanwhile, I really didn’t think the Saints were going to win a game this winter. In fact, once they stopped playing NBA teams in comparison to its school size, Vail Christian had a very good year.

Oct. 29 and May 19

Huskies runners win titles

Not a game, officially, but state titles both. In October, Naomi Harding is back from a bike accident and Lizzie Harding goes down with an ear infection. (Seriously, no more crashes, sickness or stepping on Naomi in the 800 meters.)

Elizabeth Constien finishes second; Naomi is third. Alex Raichart was ever-steady in 17th. (Raichart is becoming a Tony Crisofulli. Alex, that’s a good thing.) Grace Johnson and Kaela Fahrney pick up Lizzie Harding, who’s down on the deck, and the Huskies beat Air Academy for their first title since 2005.

Nearly six months later, Raichart gets Battle Mountain the lead at the end of the second leg of the state 3,200-meter relay, and the Hardings aren’t giving it back.

Oct. 29

Vail Mountain boys soccer vs. Delta

Busy day for me, as I’m in East Vail and I’m also covering state cross-country in Colorado Springs. The good news is that Robby Gruber is even busier, scoring twice against Delta in a 2-0 win over the Panthers in Round 2 of the playoffs.

Note No. 1: The first goal is set up by Eric Zdechlik. Not only have I had to spell that name over and over, but he’s one of the best midfielders we’ve seen play around here.

Note No. 2: Gruber converts the ensuing P.K. Guber has four goals all season and three of them came against Delta. (He beat them in OT during the regular season.)

Note No. 3: Gruber is a pretty good hockey player, too.

Feb. 16

Eagle Valley boys basketball at Battle Mountain

“Hope you enjoyed that,” Huskies coach Philip Tronsrue said to me afterward.

Yeah, Coach, that was a pretty fun game as the Huskies upset the Devils, 49-45, in overtime. This was everything a rivalry game in any sport should be.

Devin Huffman lit up the home gym with a slam late. The Huskies led, 40-38, as regulation wound down. Carlos Quezada’s desperation 3 missed and it seemed as if Battle Mountain had won in regulation. I still don’t know how Garrett Martin got the tap-in to send it to overtime.

In a novel concept, the Huskies actually make their free throws in overtime, and Battle Mountain deprives Eagle Valley of a league title.

The roof of Battle Mountain’s gym is still in tact somehow after the game.

Nov. 5

Battle Mountain boys soccer vs. D’Evelyn

The Huskies were done. When Battle Mountain trails in the playoffs, it’s over. I’ve covered this team for 20 years. I know it’s over.

Except …

Juan Macias scores twice and Creek Kamby finds the ball at his feet with two minutes to go in front of the Jaguars’ net.

“Obviously, just don’t whiff,” Kamby said afterward.

He doesn’t and the Huskies win 3-2, eventually advancing to the state finals for the second time in five years.

One of the quotes of the year comes from coach David Cope: “I think the main thing was, in order to set us up for the semifinal, we wanted to put ourselves in a hole. So we did that twice.”

We’re calling horse feathers on that, Cope.

Nov. 5

Eagle Valley volleyball vs. Evergreen

You see a pattern here? Come playoffs, everything happens at the same time.

Evergreen eliminated Eagle Valley in 2015 in the final match of regionals. This time, the Devils got the Cougars in Gypsum.

Mark it down — Eagle Valley wins, 25-18, 19-25, 21-25, 25-16, 15-7, and the Devils make state. Eagle Valley coach Jackie Rindy ages seven years during the match, which makes her about 26-years-old.

What’s more Eagle Valley AD Tamara Payne does back flips after the match, proving that she is definitely the most acrobatic administrator in the county.

Nov. 8

Donald Trump is elected president and VMS soccer coach Bob Bandoni’s head explodes. VMS girls soccer does win the 3A Slope and a playoff game in the spring, and Bandoni is named 3A Slope Coach of the Year.

Bandoni tweets his thanks, saying, “Thank you for your support. Together, we will MAKE AMERICA SAFE AND GREAT AGAIN!”

Or not, with regard to certain aspects of this note.

March 24

Eagle Valley girls soccer at Battle Mountain

The Devils beat Battle Mountain, 2-1. It’s the first time Eagle Valley has beaten Battle Mountain on the girls’ side in forever. Rose Sandell finishes the game in net after Brennecke Gale is carded out of the game with a save that ends up clinching the ball game. Most astonishingly, this set of Devils is the first one to beat the Huskies at their own game, playing wide at Battle Mountain.

One day later, the Devils also beat VMS, giving Maggie Sherman a win over her former coach Bob Bandoni, who is still mumbling something about Trump.

Early January

We finally get a full weekend of alpine and Nordic ski racing. Freud uses his poor math skills to determine that VMS can win both state titles. The Gore Rangers mercifully back up Freud’s math with actual victories in February.

March 31

VMS lacrosse vs. Ponderosa

Ler scores on a behind-the-back goal in a 12-11 win over Ponderosa. Ler is VMS-speak for Tyler Hancock, who scores 85 goals in that 12-11 win — OK, he only had six.

In a season of many milestones, this is the game that shows VMS lax is for real.

April 14

Battle Mountain girls soccer vs. Steamboat Springs

It’s been more than a month and I still don’t get this one.

VMS pulled its keeper in 1999 in OT, but the Gore Rangers had to win — not tie — to make the playoffs in that classic against the Huskies. Alberto Saenz scored for the Huskies, so it didn’t work for the Gore Rangers. Cope has pulled the goalie before with Beau Beckley running up and down the field. (Didn’t work.) We’ve had the 3-3-3-Connor-Tedstrom formation against Glenwood Springs (That worked.)

But Jordan Glendining out of the net and scoring in the final seconds of overtime?

Never saw it coming.

Was it a significant game with playoff implications? In retrospect, no. Was it one of the greatest finishes ever and why I love my job? Absolutely.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, and @cfreud.

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