In Gypsum: Eagle Valley boys notch first slope victory
Vail, CO Colorado
GYPSUM, Colorado ” Trailing 50-49 with 3:17 left in the fourth quarter, Brett Wilson asked his Eagle Valley teammates a simple question.
“Who wants it more?”
Thanks the ferocious rebounding of Wilson and Zach Ramsay, and the defense of Bryce Zehring, it turned out that the Devils did. Eagle Valley (3-16, 1-9) won its first game in the 4A Slope, 61-57, over Rifle in Gypsum on Friday night.
“We couldn’t shut Brett up, really,” Chris Brubeck said. “Then we saw what it was in the paper today. That really fired the whole school up.”
When Tyler Rust hit a driving layup to put the Bears up 29-19, it looked like Eagle Valley would fall victim again. Not so fast.
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
Immediately, the Devils started to cut into the Rifle lead. Brubeck’s 3-point play made the score 29-23. A minute later, Wilson banked in a shot to send the game into halftime at 30-26.
After the break, Eagle Valley kept working the ball inside. Willie Magdziuk scored the first basket off the half of a nice feed from Cesar Castillo. When Castillo hit two free throws to make it 37-35, it was the Devils’ first lead since 2-0.
Seniors Castillo, Brubeck and Ramsay all scored 15 points to lead Eagle Valley. Ramsay’s big night also included 12 rebounds and 10 blocks for a triple-double.
“We really need our seniors contributing and in a team way,” Eagle Valley coach Pat Gabriel said. “It’s really good for us.”
The game stayed close through most of the fourth quarter before Wilson willed his teammates to the win. In the fourth quarter alone, Wilson grabbed seven rebounds and Ramsay blocked four shots.
“We just had to protect the ball and play defense hard (in the fourth quarter),” Ramsay said. “The rebounding needs to be done every game. It shouldn’t just be happening now.”
Maybe the biggest basket of the game came with less than a minute to play. Wilson missed a jumper, but Ramsay pulled down the rebound and made the putback to push the Devils ahead 56-51.
Brubeck and Castillo clinched it at the free-throw line with four-straight makes.
“It’s a good feeling,” Brubeck said. “I can’t really celebrate too much because I did what I was supposed to do.”
Cordova sinks Eagle Valley girls
Rifle and Eagle Valley weren’t playing Jeopardy!, but one of the Bears’ players had all the answers, oops, questions.
Courtney Cordova faced every defense the Devils could think of and still found a way to lead Rifle (12-5, 7-2) to a 53-49 victory in Gypsum on Friday night. The sophomore scored 28 points in a torrid shooting effort.
“Courtney Cordova is a stud,” Eagle Valley coach Ken Reagan said. “She tore us apart. That’s all there is too it.”
In the decisive fourth quarter, Cordova stole the show. She started the period with a 3-pointer from the right corner to give the Bears a 38-31 lead. Later, she answered an Eagle Valley spurt with a driving layup to push the advantage to eight points.
The Devils kept fighting behind a strong fourth quarter from Kacey Bair. She scored 13 points in the period to keep Eagle Valley in the game.
“Kacey has kind of been our leader,” Reagan said. “Hopefully, she is getting hot for the home stretch. She took over (in the fourth quarter).”
Eagle Valley trailed only 51-48 with 54 seconds left when Cordova made the play of the game. She stole the ball from Brenda Zapata and raced down the court for a layup to essentially seal the win.
“Eagle Valley did man, zone and box-and-1 on her,” Rifle coach Stephanie Heald said. “(Courtney) kept finding ways to get open and make something happen tonight.”
Eagle Valley nearly took control of the game in the third quarter, but poor passing hurt the Devils. A Zapata layup gave the Devils their biggest lead at 26-21, but then the turnovers started for Eagle Valley. Rifle had no problem taking advantage. Cordova hit another trey to push the Bears ahead, 33-27. She scored 20 points after halftime.
Even with the close loss, the Devils fell by 19 at Rifle, Reagan wasn’t happy with a morale victory. Reagan thinks Eagle Valley (7-11, 4-5) needs to finish in the top four of the Slope to make the playoffs. Currently, Eagle Valley holds the fourth position, just ahead of Palisade.
The Devils are back in action on Tuesday when it hosts Steamboat Springs at 7 p.m.
Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.