Hungry Huskies rally past Devils
GYPSUM – As rivalry games go, Tuesday’s night matchup between Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain was one to savor and one at which to cringe.The good stuff? Both teams played one another to a 47-47 tie through three quarters and were as close as three points with less than a minute to go before a Kyle Leffler free throw iced a 62-58 win for the Huskies with 15 seconds remainingAnd the bad?In the midst of a tight, scrappy game between two teams who had split in their first two meetings before Tuesday, a tussle for a loose ball midway through the decisive fourth quarter nearly resulted in fisticuffs between Eagle Valley senior Kevin Cruz and Battle Mountain senior Thomas Pacheco.The flare-up changed the course of the game. Cruz, who had been brilliant up to that point with 10 points and a handful of assists, was benched by head coach Pat Gabriel for the remainder of the fourth quarter.
Pacheco, who had to be restrained by teammates after Cruz slammed the ball into his chest at the end of the scrap, ended up sinking a clutch free throw in the final two minutes to give his team a three-point advantage.”I just think that gave us potential,” Pacheco said afterward in regard to the fray. “I was just hustling, just getting after the ball. When one person does that, it’s just contagious. Everyone gets it.”Neither Gabriel or Cruz were available for comment after the game.The Huskies had to fight back after a slow start in the first quarter.With the Devils leading, 16-8, Huskies’ big men Connor Drumm and Trent Beckley became more assertive underneath the basket with pivot moves and pull-up jumpers. The Huskies also got help on the perimeter with big 3-pointers from Pacheco and senior Rogelio Loya.
Devils senior post Cody Gerard, who finished with 16 points overall, tried to keep his team’s momentum with two 3s of his own, but the Huskies offensive surge was too much. The exclamation point in the 26-14 run was a huge two-handed slam from Beckley to give his team a five-point lead, before heading into the locker room at the break up 34-30.After the Devils rallied back to tie the game at the close of third, the drama of the fourth played out to the dismay and delight of the respective teams crowds lining the sides of the packed gym.Battle Mountain coach Philip Tronsrue said, despite the ebb and flow of the game through the first 32 minutes, he felt all along that his squad would pull out the win when it counted most.”I just thought it was a great game,” he said. “They pulled ahead. We fought back. We took the lead, then we gave up a one-point lead to them. But we stepped up and took control of the ball game again at the end and we knew it was going to be ours. We just kept on fighting and kept on being scrappy about our play and how we were running our offense and working our defense.”
Added Drumm, who finished with a team high 14 points, “This is incredible. We haven’t beaten Eagle Valley here in such a long time. For us seniors, this is huge.”Lady Devils get revengeSenior Devils’ star Kenzie Shreeve didn’t play in the first league game between Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley this season, which ended in defeat for the Devils.She was back in the lineup Tuesday night at home – something that wasn’t good news for the visiting Huskies. Shreeve was shut down for most of the first half underneath by Battle Mountain’s Lauren Prewitt and Meagan Reigel, but went off in the final 16 minutes of action to lead her team past the Huskies in a 51-41 win.
She matched Reigel with 15 points and also pulled down seven rebounds in the win. Eagle Valley junior forward Amanda Padilla also had a big night offensively, dropping in eight points off 4-for-7 shooting.Prewitt and Emily LyBarger added four points for the Huskies apiece and Alexis Guinn tacked on six.”She’s obviously one of our biggest rebounders and one of our biggest scorers so that helps.” Devils coach Jamie Mayne said. “There was a little unfinished business that we had with them.Sports writer Nate Peterson can be reached at 949-0555 ext. 608, or via e-mail at email@example.comVail Colorado