Huskies win; face Durango Thursday
PALISADE – Battle Mountain boys basketball is still dancing.
And they’ll be dancing all the way to Grand Junction and Colorado Mesa University and the Elite Eight of the District Tournament after a 54-52 play-in victory against Montezuma-Cortez Tuesday night at Palisade.
“It’s a big step for us,” Huskies coach Tommy Padilla said. “It’s big for the program to win a pigtail game. It’s good for our kids. I wanted our kids to play at the college.”
No. 9 Battle Mountain (9-11) starts its weekend in Grand Junction Thursday against No. 1 Durango (14-5) at Colorado Mesa University at 7:30 p.m., and is still very much in the running for a state berth.
Battle Mountain is in that position thanks to its defense. Trailing 31-24 at the half, the Huskies went to full-court pressure, man-to-man defense. Point-guard Joe LyBarger had a huge steal late. Jack Kamby came up with a key offensive rebound and got the put-back and a foul to give the Huskies the lead late. In all, the defense produced seven turnovers in the fourth quarter.
LyBarger ended the night with 17 points, while Kamby finished with 10.
And, by the by, Battle Mountain won its second close game in the last week. Before nipping Steamboat Springs and Cortez, the Husies had lost their last four games decided by five or fewer points.
A reminder about the format of the Elite Eight in Grand Junction – it’s not single-elimination. In fact, the top-seven the eight teams make the state playoffs. Battle Mountain faces either the winner of Thursday’s Rifle-Steamboat game or the loser of Palisade-Montrose on Friday. Win one game Thursday, Friday or Saturday and a team is in the state tournament.
In other play-in action Tuesday, Montrose knocked off Summit, 53-31, and Glenwood Springs pulled the upset of Delta, 65-58, in overtime.
Here’s the first round down in Grand Junction:
Battle Mountain vs. Durango, 7:30 p.m., at Mesa
Rifle vs, Steamboat, 4:30 p.m., at Central
Eagle Valley vs. Glenwood Springs, 7:30 p.m., at Central
Palisade vs Montrose, 4: 30 p.m., at Mesa