Lady Devils’ gutsy season comes to an end
With 2:30 left in Eagle Valley girls basketball’s Colorado 3A state game against Faith Christian, the Devils led, 46-39. Though tough Eagles defense and clutch free-throw shooting may have subdued the Devils squad, a statement was made. By the end of the season, the 26th-ranked Devils had a team that was just as good as the No. 7 Eagles, and perhaps as good as any other team in the state.
Despite the fact that Eagle Valley lost their final three games – to Basalt in the second round of the district tournament, Cedaredge in regionals and Faith Christian at State – the Devils gave each of the three contenders a good, solid scare.
Devils finished up the year with an overall record of 11-12 and a league record of 7-7.
“I thought the kids got progressively better. We saw the two teams before our game – Pagosa Springs and St. Mary’s – and we felt we were just as good as those people. If we could have gotten be Faith Christian, I think we would have had a good shot today, but that’s a big if,” said Eagle Valley coach Mike Vidakovich. “The girls, they worked so darn hard out there. We were the No. 26-seed going in, and Faith Christian was No. 7, and we’re playing them on their home court and we played them even-Steven the entire way. In fact, our press in the fourth quarter was still effective.”
The Devils bid farewell to two seniors, Trista Sandoval and Brianna Ehlert, who played integral roles in Eagle Valley’s season.
“Trista Sandoval was one of our starters, and she ended up being (3A Western Slope) All-Conference honorable mention,” said Vidakovich. “She did a lot of stuff for us; she handled the ball for us. She scored and she helped us underneath with rebounding. She ended up being our second-leading rebounder.”
Sandoval played a wing position – relative to a small forward – for the Devils, and Ehlert played on the post.
“And then, I’m really proud of Brianna Ehlert also. She didn’t get a lot of playing time this year, but she had a great attitude the entire year and she always worked hard in practice and made other people better,” said Vidakovich. “She was always very supportive toward her teammates.”
Sandoval scored 12 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dealt three assists in her final game.
“She usually has numbers about like that,” said Vidakovich.
Devils junior Kenzie Shreeve also had 12 points, and she led the Devils with 10 rebounds.
“Kenzie played a real solid game against Faith Christian,” said Vidakovich.
Rachel Sandoval added nine points and Alex Amsden had four assists.
“It’s hard to single a lot of them out; they’re just such a good team,” said Vidakovich. “I was really proud of the job that Stacie Santoro did underneath – our other post, opposite Kenzie. And then, of course, Kenzie Shreeve. She was our lone All-Conference player. And, I really thought toward the end of the year that Alex Amsden turned into a very good point guard, and she turned into kind of like our floor general. I think she’ll be a super point guard next year.
“And, I’ll tell you what. In the game yesterday, Rachel Sandoval, who’s just a sophomore, came on and she made three 3-pointers. We got down early, 12-4, and Rachel came in the game and made two quick 3-pointers, just like that, and we were back in it.
“And, I think Amanda Padilla going to be a heck of a player, too, next year. She was a solid starter for us the entire year as a sophomore, and she’s the type of kid who’ll really work hard in the offseason, and she’ll be really tough.”
Faith Christian pushed ahead in the first quarter, but two quick 3-pointers by Rachel Sandoval cut the lead to 12-8.
The Devils won the second quarter, 8-6, and they outscored the Eagles in the third quarter, 13-9.
“I’d say that during the second and third quarters, the game was back-and-forth,” said Vidakovich.
In the fourth quarter, the Devils put on a full court press, got some steals and took a 46-39 lead. Then, Faith Christian put some defensive pressure on. By trapping the Devils, the Eagles got some turnovers and went on an 8-0 run to win the game.
“I told the girls afterward that ‘I feel like we’re as good as any 3A team in the state,’ and, really, it’s been a pleasure to be associated with such a good group of kids,” said Vidakovich. “You know, They’re competitors. They were upset about it. We just told them in the locker room that we were proud of them; that they couldn’t of worked any harder than what they did.”
Faith Christian’s leading scorer was post player Kristi Zevenberger, who had 18 points. However, the Eagles player who proved most dangerous was guard Cristen Wall, who put up 13 points and went to the line eight times in the fourth quarter and made all eight foul shots.
“I think the way these girls came on late in the season, I know we lost our last three games, but each one of the three opponents were quality opponents, and we played each one of them very tough,” said Vidakovich. “The kids next year will be moving up to the 4A Western Slope league. I really feel like, if they work hard, they’ll be very, very competitive.”
Andrew Harley can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext.610, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.