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Girls head to Golden to face Evergreen; Boys take on Ranum

Daily file photoEagle Valley's John Gabriel dishes to teammate Cody Gerard against Rifle Feb. 12. The Devils boys basketball team plays Ranum Friday in the first round of the 4A state playoffs.
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GYPSUM ” Basketball, according to Eagle Valley boys coach Pat Gabriel, is guerrilla warfare.

“You have to be able to guard and defend and attack in any circumstance,” Gabriel said. “It’s not like football, which is more like trench warfare. Basketball is actually a pretty simple game.”

The metaphor is one that Gabriel is trying to grind into his troops’ heads this week as his team prepares for a matchup against Ranum Friday at 6 p.m. in the first round of the 4A playoffs. The two sides will meet in Steamboat Springs, who gets to host the sub-regional because the Sailors locked up a No. 1 seed.



Coming out of the 4A Western Slope, the ninth-seeded Devils (10-11) don’t know much about the eighth-seeded Raiders (12-11) of the 4A Skyline.

Gabriel isn’t worried about that. To boot, the Raiders don’t know much, if anything, about the Devils either.



The most important thing, the coach said, is that his tea

m is willing to do whatever it takes against its unknown opponent in battle to secure victory.

Press. Attack the basket. Hit free throws. Cause turnovers.



By any means necessary is the motto coming from Gabriel’s mouth.

“I’d rather know a little bit about them ” like what kind of personal they have,” Gabriel said. “Do they have a big man? How fast are they? Those kind of things. Personnel is more important, as opposed to their tendencies. If so-and-so is out of the game, are they vulnerable? If he’s in the game are they vulnerable? It’s guerrilla warfare, very much like in the trees and bushes.”

The Lady Devils, who play in Golden Friday at 6 p.m. against Evergreen, out of the 4A Jeffco League, are also looking to ambush their first-round regional opponent.

Coach Jamie Mayne’s group enters the tournament seeded sixth with a record of 13-8. The Cougars, behind leading scorer Ali Martin, enter Friday’s contest as the 11th seed with a record of 10-13.

Mayne never made it to the playoffs when she was playing at Eagle Valley from 1997-2000, so she said she is just as excited as her players to be getting on the bus to Golden.

“I’m very pleased with the way they’ve been performing,” she said. “I knew they had it in them. I think it’s just the fact of bringing it out and getting them to play the way they can. We’re really focusing on getting them to play our game.”

Bracketology

When scanning the field of 48 teams in both boys and girls brackets, it’s a definite surprise that the 4A Slope qualified six teams in each.

“People who are in the know, like writers and coaches, definitely know there is a little bit of Front Range bias,” Gabriel said.

Added Mayne, “I was very surprised. I thought we were only going to get three seeds. It’s nice that the Western Slope is getting that recognition, because there’s been times when teams were gyped in the past.”

Mayne and Gabriel both said they always expected their teams to make the state bracket this year, despite the general consensus around the league that Eagle Valley would struggle with the jump up to 4A.

Gabriel, who has gone to the Final Four at state five times with three different teams as a coach, said he wanted to stress teaching at the beginning of the season and felt that success would come as a result of his players buying into his system.

Mayne, a first-year coach who just graduated from Fort Lewis College last spring, said she was determined to start a postseason tradition at Eagle Valley the first day she was hired.

“When I was looking in the gym, they had those new banners up,” she said. “I noticed there’s only one thing on the women’s basketball banner. I was determined to get another thing up there.”

By any means necessary.

Staff Writer Nate Peterson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at npeterson@vaildaily.com.

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