Grand Junction takes two from Eagle Valley Devils hoops
GYPSUM — These are tough days for Eagle Valley basketball, a proud program with a history of winning.
The Lady Devils fell to 2-6 on Tuesday, Dec. 12, with a 39-29 loss to Grand Junction, while the visiting Tigers took down the boys, also 2-6, by a count of 85-63.
While there is a tendency to think the sky is falling, look at the calendar. It’s only December.
Power outage sinks girls
In the opener, Eagle Valley’s girls looked great, jumping out to a 14-5 lead. Reagan Bossow, Cassie Jaramillo and Kaitlyn Medina were all in on the action.
And then the spigot turned off. The Devils went 10 minutes without a field goal.
A basketball team is not a water faucet. The visiting Tigers went to a man-to-man defense and the Devils had a hard time adjusting.
“We’re having a hard time right now, shifting gears both with speed and when a team gives us a different look.” Devils coach Sam Bartlett said. “We had a hard time of making the right adjustments and our offensive frustrations turned into a lack of focus on defense.”
And that creates a snowball effect. Eagle Valley struggled with boxing out the Tigers, and its full-court press wasn’t effective.
The press is designed to generate fast breaks and rebounds mean more shots — struggling on defense adds to offensive problems.
That can be fixed.
“I told the girls that we have all the pieces necessary to be successful,” Bartlett said. “It’s just taking a little bit longer to put it together than we hoped.”
Bossow led the Devils with 15 points.
Guys still learning system
Since it was the home opener for the guys, the answer to the question, “What offense are the Devils running,” is a hybrid of Grinnell College, Iowa, and Loyola Marymount University, of California.
It’s a nonstop press designed to create turnovers with a bombs-away approach to the 3.
Aside from the academic exercise of whether this offense is transportable without Hanks Gathers and Bo Kimble, one of the reasons Eagle Valley is going to it is because the Devils graduated 10 seniors from last year’s team, including, ironically, one who ended up at Grinnell, Dawson Keller.
It’s a different look than most teams in the Western Slope, and it allows coach Chris Walls to play a lot of players in an up-tempo pace.
While it was a loss, Tuesday may have proved that this can work. Eagle Valley was in the game in the fourth quarter against a 4A opponent, trailing just 61-50 after 24 minutes.
“I think so,” Walls said. “Each week is a step and we’re working towards minimizing areas where we’re challenged. Our goal is to get it ready, really humming by conference play.”
The so-called areas of challenge are two — staying out of foul trouble and turnovers. With an up-tempo pace, there will be more fouls, but the Devils can’t afford to have their opponent in the bonus just six minutes into each half, as was the case on Tuesday night.
A lot of turnovers come with the system — preferably for the opponent — but Eagle Valley needs to be more efficient in their possessions. The Devils left a lot of scoring chances on the table on Tuesday.
Both Eagle Valley teams are home on Saturday, Dec. 16, for Grand Valley.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.
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