Nevin’s shot leads Eagle Valley girls to thrilling win |

Nevin’s shot leads Eagle Valley girls to thrilling win

Luke Graham
Vail, CO Colorado
Eagle Valley High School senior Kacey Bair looks to the referee for a call on a loose ball during Saturday's match against Steamboat Springs.

Eagle Valley girls basketball coach Ken Reagan knew a halftime lead wasn’t safe.

The Devils coach has seen his team lead three times at the break this season, only to lose. So when Steamboat started closing the gap in the second half, Reagan reminded his team to slow down. It worked as Eagle Valley outlasted Steamboat, 41-39, on Saturday in the Kelly Meek Gymnasium.

“It’s huge,” Reagan said. “We talked about it all season. It’s the main thing we talked about and wanted to change in league play.”

Despite scoring just 12 points in the second half, Eagle Valley got the biggest basket of the game from sophomore Mikaela Nevin with 15 seconds left in the game. With the score tied at 39, Nevin knifed through the lane, made a 10-footer and was fouled for a 41-39 lead. While Nevin missed the free throw, Eagle Valley ratcheted down on defense and forced a Steamboat turnover with four seconds remaining.

“We settled for outside shots too much,” Steamboat coach John Ameen said. “When they are going in it’s a wonderful thing. But when they’re not we have to get inside touches.”

Eagle Valley initially looked like it would run away with the game. The Devils jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the first quarter behind the play of Nevin and Kacey Bair. The Devils pushed their lead to 29-18 with 1:01 remaining in the first half before the Sailors started to find a rhythm.

Steamboat closed the half on a 5-0 run to cut the lead to 29-23 at the break. The Sailors had every opportunity to take control of the game in the third quarter. Steamboat limited Eagle Valley to one basket from the field in the quarter and created eight turnovers.

But the Sailors shot just 4 of 19 from the field in the quarter and could only cut the margin to 33-32 heading into the fourth quarter.

“I think we just got a little excited,” Reagan said. “That’s been a thing with this team we have some lapses and try to do too much with the ball. But they came down and capitalized. That’s what kept them in it.”

Eagle Valley extended its lead to 39-34 with 3:45 left in the fourth quarter, before Steamboat’s Gracie Stockdale hit a 3-pointer to bring the Sailors within 39-37. Brittany Long tied it up for Steamboat with 1:04 remaining before Nevin’s game-winner.

Steamboat defense shuts down Devils

Knowing he didn’t have the height to defend Eagle Valley’s post players or the speed to stop Devils guard Cesar Castillo, Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball coach Luke DeWolfe deployed a tactic not often seen in the Kelly Meek Gymnasium the last 30 years.

DeWolfe went to a 2-3 zone.

It worked beautifully as Steamboat easily ran past Eagle Valley 55-30 on Saturday night, looking as good as the team has all year.

“We just felt too with their really good guard who can penetrate he could hurt us inside,” DeWolfe said of the tactic. “We’ve played that zone a couple times and our kids really respond to it. We wanted to put physical pressure on their post players. To get through Alex (Wood) and Nelson (Brassell) is a task. Especially Alex. Getting through him is going to be tough.”

Eagle Valley opened up looking inside at 6-foot-10 forward Zach Ramsay. But each time Ramsay got the ball the zone collapsed and often times created a turnover.

“That’s exactly how I’d defend us,” Eagle Valley coach Pat Gabriel said. “They were way more physical than us unfortunately. Our kids got knocked around.”

Steamboat all but had put the game away in the first two quarters. While the Sailors continued to struggle with their shooting (7 of 22 in the first half), the Steamboat defense more than made up for it. The Sailors created 14 first half turnovers and took a 24-12 lead into the break.

“It seems to be getting better with each game,” DeWolfe said of the offense. “There is still a lot of opportunity to improve. But it’s just a matter of us hitting easy shots. If we can combine that with our defense we’ll be tough to beat.”

Nelson Brassell led the Sailors with 15 points and seven rebounds. Alex Wood chipped in 13 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Castillo led Eagle Valley with nine points while Willie Magdziuk scored eight.

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