Huskies dance into the Sweet 16 | VailDaily.com
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Huskies dance into the Sweet 16

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EAGLE-VAIL – Battle Mountain center Trent Beckley was doing his Sweet 16 dance after Saturday’s Round 2 4A state-playoff game against Montrose.”It only happens once, so I’ll let him do it,” said Huskies’ forward Connor Drumm with a grin.Perhaps an appearance on “Dancing with the Stars,” Josh Ruark?”Some of the best moves I’ve seen in my days,” the Huskies point guard said. “It’s pretty good. It would be too easy for him. It would be no competition, so I’ll say nay.””Thank God, he can play some basketball,” Huskies coach Philip Tronsrue joked. “But it’s nice that he’s able to do a Sweet 16 dance.”

Everybody involved with Battle Mountain boys’ basketball can dance because the Huskies are in the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history after a 55-43 win over Montrose.Battle Mountain’s off to Mesa State College in Grand Junction to take on Evergreen Thursday.”We’ve been doing a lot of firsts, and this is another first and means a lot,” Tronsrue said. “Everything we’ve been doing this year has meant a lot. Now, this gives us the opportunity to show CHSAA, the state of Colorado and the Front Range schools just what kind of a team we have.””It just brings a smile,” Beckley said. “Just hearing Battle Mountain in the Sweet 16 is really cool.””It’s amazing,” Ruark said. “We’ve never been this far. It’s new for the school to be here. It’s good to know you’re the only team that has done this.”Battle Mountain did it with stout defense, composure during a very physical game, and most of all, from the charity stripe.

Key statThe Huskies were a scorching 22-for-26 from the line in the second half.”No way,” Tronsrue said after the game.Way, Coach.



“That’s huge. That’s the difference in the game right there,” said Ruark, who scored all of his eight points in the fourth quarter, including a perfect 6-for-6 from the line. “We work on it every day, so we’ve done it before. It paid off, for sure.””Everybody preaches free throws, free throws, free throws,” Tronsrue said. “If you go 22-of-26, that will play anywhere.”The freebies were critical because Montrose controlled the tempo early. The Indians held Battle Mountain to a season-low 18 points in the first half, but the Huskies still led by one after 16 minutes. Two trends emerged in the first half. One, this was going to be a physical affair. Neither side seemed pleased with the officiating, meaning that the stripes were probably doing a solid job.”We just keep telling people to keep composed,” Tronsrue said. “We’re going to get things, keep persevering. We got some calls where we shouldn’t have gotten some calls. We didn’t get some calls when we should, but that’s the way it is. Accept the way the game is being called and play it that way.”Second, though it was still a close game, Battle Mountain was ruling the paint.

‘We settled down’Battle Mountain regrouped at intermission and started to use its height advantage by pounding the ball into Drumm and Beckley. The duo scored all of the Huskies’ 15 points in the third quarter. All those points came from layups and the line, except for a 3 from Drumm.”The first half was all scrappy, but we settled down in the second half and started running through our stuff,” said Drumm, who had a team-high 19 points. “We have a good offense, so we just ran through it.”The Huskies started to pull away in the fourth with a more diversified attack. Beckley, Ruark and Kyle Leffler all had layups to start the final period, and the Huskies led, 41-37, with 5:13 left in the game.

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Beckley finished with 17 points, despite playing with a hurt right thumb which was clearly bothering him at times. “Once the adrenaline kicked in, I kind of forgot about it until I hurt it again,” Beckley said. “When it hurt, I crunched my teeth together and squeezed all my strength together. I couldn’t stop.”Then came the free throw parade. In the final 2:45, Leffler, Ruark, T.J. Montoya and Drumm all knocked down their shots as Battle Mountain pulled away.Whiteout

All this pleased the white-clad Huskies faithful who packed The Dog House. Battle Mountain (21-2) finished the season with a perfect 10-0 record in Eagle-Vail. “That was great support,” Drumm said. “That was awesome. It was a great environment, so thanks, everyone, for coming.””That crowd was amazing,” Beckley said. “You can’t ask much more of them. There were kids getting kicked out, kids going crazy. The funny thing is that they’re having fun too. You’re giving your school something to have fun about. That gives you joy inside, too. They’re there for you and you’re letting them have fun. It’s really cool.”The faithful will presumably head west to Grand Junction Thursday for a shot at the Elite Eight. That, of course will require a new dance.”We’ll start tryouts for that,” Drumm said.

Extra shotsPseudo-congratulations to fans Tyler Cole and Walker Loetscher who got tossed from Saturday’s game in the fourth quarter. Kyle Moore wanted it noted that he and Taylor Telling were booted earlier this year. Your enthusiasm is appreciated, but try not to make it a habit, guys. … Could we please get some tape?: Evergreen trailed Montezuma-Cortez at the half Saturday before rallying for a 60-55 win. Of course, while Evergreen was making its comeback, Tronsrue and company were back in the locker room preparing for their game. “I didn’t see the part I wanted to see, I guess,” Tronsrue said. “When I left, they were trailing by 13. Then, I hear they’re up by three with 20 seconds to go. So, I missed the best part of their game.”Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14630 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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