Huskies haul in postseason honors
EAGLE-VAIL – The Battle Mountain boys’ basketball stormed onto the 4A Slope scene, winning its first league title this year.The same can be said when it comes to postseason honors. Huskies coach Philip Tronsrue was the league’s Coach of the Year. Connor Drumm took Player of the Year. Drumm and Derek Rush were named all-league. Josh Ruark and T.J. Montoya earned honorable mention.Had it not been for two technicals to Trent Beckley, a lock for all-league, in a game against Palisade in January, the Huskies’ starting five all would have been named.”It just shows that we were a team,” Rush said. “There were the two towers (Drumm and Beckley), but we were all in it together. It just shows how much we were united together.” It’s a lot more fun for all of us,” Drumm said. “It’s exciting for all of us. It proved to us that we worked hard and had a great year.”Dr. Phil
When you turn around a team from an 0-12 in the Slope in 2002-03 to league champions at 13-1 in 2005-06, well, that makes you Coach of the Year.Tronsrue’s fourth year at the helm brought to fruition Battle Mountain’s best basketball season ever at 21-3, including an appearance in the Sweet 16 last week.”I appreciate the recognition. I just think comes back to the team as a whole,” the coach said. “It’s nice that the league recognizes me and the team. It’s a group effort. The coach doesn’t get it done without having a bunch of quality players, and players don’t get it done unless they have committed, loyal teammates and coaches. It’s just nice that we’ve all been recognized because we’ve had a tremendous season.”While Tronsrue told each of his players about their all-league honors, he seemed to omit mentioning his own prize.”That’s awesome,” Drumm said upon hearing the news. “He deserves it. He showed a lot of support. He wanted to win this year. He really likes what he does. He makes friends with us off the court, and when it’s time to step on the court, it’s time to go. He loves every aspect of the game.””He’s such a nice guy that you want to play hard for him,” Rush said. “He doesn’t yell at you to discipline you. He tells you in a nicer way which makes you respect him more. That’s just how he’s an effective coach.”Equally effective were assistant coaches Dave Wilson and Bob Reed.”It’s really hard on Dave and Bob. They have their full-time jobs and they’re doing this out of pure love to be involved in the community with the basketball program,” Tronsrue said. “They help out tremendously. The commitment that they have toward practice and game preparation gets better and better each year.”
Rush-ing to the Drumm-beatWith 20 points and 7 rebounds per game on the best team in the league, Drumm capped of his career with Player of the Year in the Slope.”It’s pretty cool,” Drumm said. “Coach told me (Monday). We just had a great year as a team. It’s good to see that hard work pays off.”For Tronsrue, Drumm’s performance transcended the court.”One of the things he brought which was more prevalent was to bring all of the players together,” Tronsrue said. “It was important that we keep together. It was important that we keep everybody focused and in the right frame of mind, and everybody trying to contribute. We needed more than Connor and Trent. I think Connor tried to make it a purpose that Josh, T.J., Derek and Kyle (Leffler) and Clark (Simmons) and Kenny (Brodin) and those guys were an important part of the team.”While it was Drumm’s third all-league selection, Derek Rush picked up his first.”It’s was pretty surprising. I didn’t really know that it was coming,” Rush said. “It feels pretty good. Coach called me the other day and said that there was going to be something in the paper about it.”
As a side note, Tronsrue is not only Coach of the Year for his basketball knowledge, but his media savvy.Rush earned his stripes combining his outside shot with strong, physical play.”He came in there and was aggressive at times when needed him to get some rebounds,” Tronsrue said. “One of the things that stuck out in my mind is that he averaged four assists per game. He knew what our game plan was. He knew that we had to get the ball to Trent and Connor, and every once in a while he got his shot.”Honorable mentions and worthy mentionRuark earned up honorable-mention honors for his play on the point. He, like the other guards on the team, had a penchant for the 3. He also left a lot of himself on the court, diving after loose balls.”The leadership quality was outstanding,” Tronsrue said. “You need to have someone like that helping run the point and helping the offense in a nice flow. That’s truly one of his outstanding points. Plus as the season went on, he became more aggressive at driving to the hole when we needed to have a solid drive.”Montoya joined Ruark with clutch 3-balls and the best hair in the league, a big ‘fro which was shaved for the playoffs.
“There were some games where he had some big shots,” Tronsrue said. “The one that really stands out was the 3-pointer at Steamboat.”That trey keyed a big 44-35 win against the Sailors on the road. In that same game, Beckley rolled an ankle, which was thought to be his most serious injury at the time. As it turned out, he had also broken his right thumb. Beckley played through his busted thumb and would have been an easy all-league pick with 17 points and 11 rebounds per game. But the Slope’s rules prohibit players who accrue two technicals in a game from being awarded postseason honors.”He developed a great hunger for the game,” Tronsrue said. “He really wanted to improve his basketball skills and his playing ability, and he really did. He was a dominant person inside the post. A number of coaches at the coaches’ meeting said they knew how important he was to our program and how much stronger he was when he was in the game.”Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14630 or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado