Huskies cagers hope to take the next step
EAGLE-VAIL, Ciolorado ” Most basketball teams wouldn’t be too thrilled with a 4-18 season.
And in fairness, the Battle Mountain boys basketball squad didn’t exactly have a ticker-tape parade after the 2007-08 season with that mark. On the other hand, it represented progress.
After a stunning march to the school’s first league title and a spot in the Sweet 16 in 2005-06, Huskies basketball, for all intents and purposes, imploded because of graduation.
Two years ago, the Huskies stumbled to an 0-22 record, so 4-18 last season is what coach Philip Tronsrue and company hope is the first step toward becoming more of a factor on the 4A Slope this winter and in the years to come.
“That’s a goal for us ” to be around .500, hopefully, a game or two over .500,” Tronsrue said. “We have to quit letting teams slip by us and be more consistent.”
While going from 4-18 to 11-11 would be quite the turnaround, it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility. The Huskies were legitimately competitive in some tight losses last year against teams like Eagle Valley, Moffat County and Delta, and
Tronsrue hopes that the seasoning of the last year will turn those defeats into victories.
Perhaps the best omen for this season came in last year’s two games against Eagle Valley. In the first meeting, the Huskies squandered a sizable lead in Eagle-Vail and eventually lost on a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Cesar Castillo.
Battle Mountain responded a month later by going down to Gypsum and returning the favor with a 54-45 win.
“It definitely helped getting a win at Eagle Valley,” Huskies shooting guard Parker Lathrop said. “It’s going to help our confidence more this year. If you can win on the road at Eagle, you can win anywhere.”
As Tronsrue is quick to point out, the Huskies have only two seniors in Mitch Cooley and Rudy Ybarra. But Lathrop is one of a bunch of juniors on this year’s team, who saw significant playing time last year as sophomores, giving hope that better days are ahead.
Point guard Robert Weiss returns to join an experienced backcourt with Lathrop. Junior Edward Banegas will be the swing man. Cooley, at 6-foot-5, at power forward and center Scott McClure (6-4) give the Huskies decent size in the paint.
The experience of the perimeter and the size inside are critical for Battle Mountain this year. The Huskies were way too one-dimensional last season as opponents simply doubled-down on then-senior Ashlin Romero.
“The last couple of years we haven’t had much of a perimeter game, and teams have just sat back on us,” Tronsrue said. “We need to be more balanced and we have good backcourt leadership.”
Tronsrue can also turn to a an experienced bench with the likes of Ybarra, Pancho Meneses, Miguel Copas and Clint Hervert.
The Huskies open the season Friday at the Buena Vista Tournament against the hosts. Then it’s off the Northeastern Junior College Tournament in Sterling the next weekend.
“We’ve been to Pagosa Springs in the south (in previous years), so we might as well go to the northeastern corner of the state,” Tronsrue joked.
The Huskies finally get their home opener against Evergreen Jan. 7 before starting their Slope slate. Steamboat Springs and Glenwood Springs appear to be the class of the league until someone proves otherwise.
Consistency is going to be Tronsrue’s mantra as the Huskies navigate the Slope. Battle Mountain did have runs of good play last season, only to be undone by a spotty quarter or a slow start.
“When you look at some of those games against Delta and Moffat, part of the deal was that we didn’t have really good leadership,” Tronsrue said. “These guys are starting to understand that they more mature and need to play at a consistently high level and not let those games slip away.”
“This year, we’re focusing on being a more disciplined team,” Lathrop said. “Last year, we hurried some shots when we were ahead. We’re also more experienced. We played about 50 games this summer. Hopefully, we’re smarter and have more confidence late in games and do what needs to be done.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.