Let the Madness begin: The Sweet 16
EAGLE-VAIL – Yes, two rounds of the 4A state playoffs are in the books, but now it is official.Welcome to March Madness. Battle Mountain’s in the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history. The Huskies head to Mesa State College in Grand Junction for the Bill Weimar Region semifinals against Evergreen at 7:45 p.m. Thursday. The winner of that game faces the D’Evelyn-Greeley Central victor for a spot in the Final Four Saturday.”Oh, baby, the Huskies are in March Madness,” Huskies coach Philip Tronsrue said.While Dr. Phil needs a little work on his Dick Vitale impression, he is as well versed in bracketology as Dickie V. Last week, Tronsrue did not hand out the entire 48-team bracket to his charges. Instead, the Huskies just got a miniature three-team bracket with the Montrose-Steamboat winner facing Battle Mountain.This week’s draw is equally small – just the Huskies and Evergreen on a piece of paper.”I don’t want these guys to take any different approach,” Tronsrue said Monday. “Today, we’re going to pass out another part of the bracket. … That’s all that’s important. If you don’t win, the rest of the bracket means nothing. This is Thursday’s game and we want to win it.”With the caveat that the Huskies are not looking ahead of Evergreen. a look at the region:
No. 3 Evergreen (17-7)Huskies fans got a look at the Cougars last weekend in Eagle-Vail, as Evergreen came back from a nine-point deficit to beat Montezuma-Cortez. The Cougars certainly like their 3-pointers. They attempted a whopping 384 treys this season. Perimeter play will be key, as will be rebounding. Even when a team is hot from downtown, it’s not going to make every 3.Travis Tucker, Armand Esmali and J.D. McJunkin are among those to watch.Evergreen lost at Moffat County, 73-71, but that was on Dec. 9. A Jeffco team, Evergreen beat Summit, 57-47.Tronsrue’s take: They’re a solid ball club in that they like to work the floor in a couple of different ways. They like to pound it in when you’re least expecting it. They like to shoot the 3-ball a lot anywhere from 15-25 times a game.”They’re always looking for the 3-ball. We’ve got to cover the perimeter well, but not lose sight of the inside. Sometimes if you come out and play them hard, you’ll overcompensate and that will open up a guy inside. They’ll take the two-pointer instead of the 3-pointer, if it’s going to come easier.
No. 1 D’Evelyn (20-4)The Jaguars beat the Huskies, 77-45, in the second game of the season at the Brenda Patch Tournament. Other results of note include a wins over Steamboat (54-39), Summit (72-46) Evergreen (44-43) and Palisade (69-44).D’Evelyn started the year as the top-ranked team in 4A, so the Jags should be considered the favorite in the region until another team proves otherwise. D’Evelyn is led by Spencer Gardner, one of the most prolific scorers in the state, and Andrew Hooper.As for the loss to D’Evelyn, don’t think that Battle Mountain hasn’t been thinking about it. It was one of only two losses for the Huskies (21-2) this season.Tronsrue’s take: “They bring some good kids off the bench. That’s what took care of us in our game. We outscored their starters in the first quarter and the third quarter, but they ended up going with a smaller lineup. Their pressure was a little more than our guards could handle in the second game of the season.”Now in March, our guards are better prepared. That was an eye-opener for us and since that time, we’ve worked all the time to make our guards handle the press better and getting the ball up the floor without making bad passes and turnovers.”
No. 4 Greeley Central (17-7)Greeley Central finished sixth in its conference. OK, the Northern Conference has 16 teams, so don’t take much stock in that. Playing 15 games within one’s league makes it hard to figure how the Wildcats will fare against nonconference opponents.Central crushed Rifle, 72-30, and fell to Montrose, 53-46, in the Black Canyon Classic in December. The Huskies beat the latter in Round 2 last weekend. Greeley advanced to the Sweet 16 with a comeback 57-49 win over Glenwood Springs.Tronsrue’s take: “Glenwood was actually up on them pretty decent. Glenwood quit pretty much like Montezuma-Cortez did (against Evergreen in Round 2). They played the night before and were maybe a bit tired, got a big lead and started to coast.”Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14630 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado