Oh, that winning feeling: Devils do it again
Vail, CO Colorado
GYPSUM ” Using the same tool that brought them a victory against their cross-county rivals the previous night, the Eagle Valley girls basketball team downed Steamboat on Saturday, 57-45, in a game that carried the energy of a rivalry match-up.
“We didn’t play well the whole game like Friday, and Steamboat came back on us … but we pulled it together,” Eagle Valley coach Ken Reagan said.
Eagle Valley pressured Steamboat’s offense and controlled the glass for most of the game. The Sailors pulled close to the Devils several times, but whenever Steamboat took a misstep, Eagle Valley was right there to capitalize and extend its lead.
“We started hard, but not smart,” Steamboat coach John Ameen said. “That put us in a hole that we just didn’t get out of. Then, we get a technical, we’re down three, it goes from a three- to seven-(point lead).”
With time winding down in the third quarter, the Sailors had cut the Devils’ lead to 37-34 and had held the momentum. But after an out-of-bounds call against Steamboat, the Sailors’ Darcy Hornstein slammed the ball and was called for a technical. The Devils’ Jeanette Baker, who was a perfect 12-for-12 from the line, sunk the free throws and the Devils followed up with a bucket on the in-bound.
Steamboat pulled to 47-43 late in the fourth quarter before Eagle Valley’s Jackie Eberhard made a pair of great plays down low to seal the victory for the Devils. Eberhard converted on a bucket while being fouled and collected her own rebound on the missed free throw, which led to a Miranda Aragon field goal.
“Our seniors really calmed the team down,” Reagan said.
While they didn’t shoot too well, the Devils had plenty of opportunities to find the bucket.
“In the first half, we were giving them second, third and fourth opportunities on the offensive glass,” Ameen said.
“Five chances one time,” Reagan said. We did a good job there. Jackie came up big and Jamie (Bair ) did a really good job.”
Eberhard had 13 rebounds along with 15 points, while Bair had nine boards.
“Jackie was really good on the post,” Bair said. “I really look up to her.”
In the second half, Steamboat’s Colleen King returned the favor to the Devils, picking up a handful of offensive boards and collecting most of her nine points.
“She’s always in the thick of things,” Ameen said. “She did a fantastic job on Jeanette.”
But as most teams in the league know, there is only so much you can do to control Baker. In addition to her flawless night from the line, Baker picked up 10 points from the field to finish with a game-high 22 and added eight rebounds and assists.
The foul line ” on both ends ” hurt the Devils in the second half and gave the Sailors a chance to stick around. Eagle Valley was 5-for-14 from the line in the second half and sent Steamboat to the line often.
“We were in the bonus even before we got to the fourth quarter,” Reagan said. “That was plain over-aggressiveness. Sometimes it’s dumb over-aggressivness, and sometimes it’s the way you have to play to win. Our half-court defense worked really well.”
While they shot better than the Devils from the line, the Sailors still weren’t able to pick up the points they needed down the stretch.
“We weren’t working the ball as well as we could have on the offensive end, looking inside and getting easy buckets,” Ameen said.
The victory gave Eagle Valley its first back-to-back wins all season.
“We wanted to win so badly for our seniors,” Bair said.
There was a brief pause, but once the gears got cranking again, the Steamboat boys basketball team cruised to yet another league victory Saturday against Eagle Valley in Gypsum.
One day after both Steamboat and Eagle Valley played their rivals, the No. 5 Sailors topped the Devils, 58-37, to collect their 30th-straight league win and moved one step closer to another perfect regular season. And the Sailors did it for the second night in a row without star player Aaron Calkins.
“After losing Aaron, who was the player of the year last year, we weren’t sure where we were with things,” Steamboat coach Kelly Meek said. “I was pleased with the early part of our start, then after I made substitutions, we went downhill. But for the most part, we came back and contained (Eagle Valley’s) top two guys.”
Steamboat’s tight defense paired with the collectively cold shooting hand of Eagle Valley, shut down a potentially explosive Devils’ offense.
“Our big emphasis was on No. 5 (Cesar Castillo) and No. 2 (Scott House), and it had to be,” Meek said. “For the most part, it played out well for us. And we got some good play from the bench.”
Castillo had one point, while House had 13.
“That was a huge difference,” Eagle Valley coach Pat Gabriel said. “Cesar has been an all-league kind of player for us. He’s usually knocking in 15 or 20. Scott only had 13 … he’s usually knocking into the 20s.”
The Sailors launched some errant 3-pointers early, but found their shooting touch in the second half.
“We started going inside better,” Meek said. “For a while, when we got the lead, we settled for the quick, easy outside three, which wasn’t going down for us. When we get hot, we’re crazy hot. But we fell into the trap of a quick-shot offense … then, once we got it inside, we started getting them into foul trouble.”
Steamboat spread out its scoring with three players in double digits. Guard Michael Vandahl, who scored a career-high 37 points Friday night, led all scorers Saturday with 15. Colby Kostur chipped in 13 for the Sailors while Connor Morse added 12.
Early in the first quarter, it looked like the Sailors were going to run away with the game as they built a 13-2 lead. But the Devils went on an 8-0 run to close the quarter. With less than 30 seconds left, the Sailors held a 13-6 lead before Castillo stole a pass, rushed down the court and fed teammate Roberto Pantoja, who nailed a field goal. Then, with six seconds left, House stole a pass just inside the Devils’ end, broke free on the bucket and slammed the ball home.
By halftime, Steamboat had moved ahead 24-16 and continued to distance itself from Eagle Valley in the second half.
“We had trouble shooting, period. I don’t know what’s going on,” Gabriel said. “We scored one field goal in the second quarter. I think our weakness was we over-dribbled the basketball. The whole team, at times, they would get picked because of it, and we’d lock up when we were dribbling. But (Steamboat) is definitely a good team and deserves credit.”
Steamboat (13-0 in the 4A Western Slope) closes out its regular season Friday when its hosts Battle Mountain. Eagle Valley hosts Rifle on Thursday.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.