Home, sweet home: Huskies host
EAGLE-VAIL – There is a sign in the Battle Mountain boys’ basketball team’s locker room that reads:Volleyball: Undefeated at home.Boys’ soccer: Undefeated at home.Boys’ basketball: Undefeated at home.We must protect our house.On the last count, so far, so good. Battle Mountain is 9-0 at The Dog House this season, and would like to make it a perfect 10 come Saturday’s Round 2 state-playoff game at 2 p.m. against either Montrose or Steamboat Springs.Taking a step back, yes, Battle Mountain basketball is actually playing at home during the state playoffs, a program first. Apparently, shooting guard T.J. Montoya was so excited about that fact he clipped his Afro last weekend.The second seed in the Bill Weimar Region, the Huskies will be hosting five other teams in their subregional for two berths in the Sweet 16 in Grand Junction. No. 6 Montezuma-Cortez takes on No.12 Summit Friday night at 8 for the right to face No. 3 Evergreen Saturday at 12:30 p.m. No. 7 Montrose and No. 10 Steamboat battle it out Friday at 6:30 p.m. to face the Huskies on Saturday.
Saturday’s 2 p.m. game is the Huskies’ first – and likely only matinee – of the season. So for the faithful, the basketball team would appreciate it if all involved would go skiing/snowboarding in the morning before the game. After all, the snow gets tracked out by 2 p.m., right?What’s more a packed Dog House has become a tough venue for visiting teams in which to play. “It’s been incredible,” Huskies coach Phil Tronsrue said. “When you’re standing over here on the sidelines, and you see almost the entire side of the bleachers entirely in white, yelling, “Battle Mountain,” it’s impressive. It’s great.””I always feel like we’ve always played so much better in front of our crowd,” Huskies forward/center Clark Simmons said. “Everyone chanting just gets us that much more pumped with the adrenaline going. I feel like we have a better chance of winning at home.”Steamboat?Yes, 11-11 Steamboat is a possibility for Battle Mountain, though the Sailors must face a strong Montrose squad in Round 1. Battle Mountain has beaten Steamboat twice in league play, making a third meeting so early in the playoffs slightly curious.When asked about the possibility of playing Steamboat a third time, Tronsrue laughed and said, “Is that a good enough answer right there?”
Center Trent Beckley, apparently a student of CHSAA bracketology, was not surprised.”I had read a lot of stuff on the Internet about how most of the 4A bracket was going to go off geography,” he said. “It was either going to be us or Glenwood (which Battle Mountain fended off for the right to host regionals). I figured Summit was going here because when Steamboat hosted last year, Eagle Valley and Moffat went up there. The only reason we didn’t go up there was that it was just as far of a drive to there as it was to Centaurus.”Professor Beckley is correct. The first round of Battle Mountain’s side of the Weimar Region is a grab bag of Western Special to the Dailylope teams and regional squads with Montrose, Steamboat, Summit and Cortez. In the upper half of the regional, there’s No. 9 Palisade and No. 5 Glenwood Springs.”I wasn’t real excited to see that our first opponent could be someone from our own league,” Tronsrue said. “When I look at the whole side of the bracket, I understand the regional process, but some teams should be on the road. Four teams from our league are in our bracket. But you’ve got to win ball games against whomever you play. If it wasn’t Montrose-Steamboat, it would be a another 7-10 (matchup).”Not happy to be hereLast year, Battle Mountain made the state playoffs for the first time in school history, winning its first-round game before falling to Centaurus. This year is a different story.
The Huskies won their first Slope title and boast a 20-2 record, tied for best in 4A with Pueblo South. With homecourt in Round 2 and a high seed, the Huskies expect to make a run.”Last time, we went into the playoffs not knowing what to expect,” Beckley said. “It was the first time we’d ever done it. We hadn’t seen any of the teams from Denver. Playing during the summer, I kind of know more of the 4A players. I know what we’re getting into.”Tronsrue added that his club pretty much has been playing playoff games since the second half of the league season when both Battle Mountain and Glenwood were battling for the Slope title down to the final day of the regular season.”It’s still a basketball game, and I know it’s the state playoffs, but we were in the state tournament last year,” Tronsrue said. “We were in the championship for the Wolf Creek Classic. We looked at a lot of the second (half) against the league as playoff games. You want to play a game where something’s on the line. They’re accustomed to that.”Extra shotsBeckley update: The center, who missed last weekend’s games with a broken right thumb, has been practicing with the team this week. He’s getting the cast off Thursday and will be playing Saturday. … Scouting report: Tronsrue and company will be on hand Friday night to check out Montrose-Steamboat. “I think they’re pretty compatible,” Tronsrue said. “I think it’s going to be looking into a mirror pretty much for both teams. They’re strong. They’re going to want to drive the ball. They want to shoot some perimeter-type stuff.” … D’Evelyn is the No. 1 seed in the Weimar Region. D’Evelyn beat Battle Mountain in the season opener. … The rest of the Slope: Delta (8-12) slipped in as No. 12 in the Jim Baggot Region, and plays No. 5 Silver Creek (17-6) at Broomfield. Moffat County (11-11) is No. 7 in the same regional and takes on No. 10 Fountain-Fort Carson (9-14) at Centaurus.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14630 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Coloradp