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Prep Preview: Girls Basketball

High hopes for valley teams going into 2021-2022

Battle Mountain Huskies

2020-21: (7-4 league record, 4th in 4A Western Slope)

Who is gone?

Gabriela Caballero (18.6 ppg, over 1,000 career points), Alden Pennington (10.3 ppg)



Who is back?

Jade Harding (Sr., 1.2 ppg), Augustine Hancock (Sr., 5.4 ppg), Mia Bettis (Sr., 1.6 ppg). Bentley Kent (Sr., 1.4 ppg), Elizabeth Keiser (Sr., 1.5 spg)



Storyline

Replacing the Gabriela Caballero-led, potent senior class of 2021 is the storyline going into 2022 for the Huskies. Fortunately, what Battle Mountain might lack in offensive might, they makes up with in depth. Three starters return as well as key contributors in Kent and Keiser.

Huskies coach Jim Schuppler believes the key will be consistency and becoming a defense-first team. “Last year with our two guards able to score from the outside, we often just outscored opponents,” he said this week.

Mia Bettis is one member of a deep senior class returning for the Huskies.
Courtesy Photo

“I’m not sure we have the outside fire power this year, and (points) will have to come from getting defensive stops.”

Battle Mountain has ambitious goals again this year. Hardcore fans might be interested in making the trip west to see how the hometown team stacks up against teams from the big city. Schuppler is excited for the Huskies to face some of the larger schools on the schedule as they prepare to shift to 5A classification.

“Fruita, Monument, Fairview and Grand Junction will be great tests for us,” he said. “It’ll be interesting to see where we stand when we face these larger schools.”

Eagle Valley Devils

2020-21: 2-11 (2-9 league; 6th in 4A Western Slope)

Who is gone?

Sieairra Rivera (8.0 ppg), Ilse Barcenas (4.9 ppg), Elizabeth Mendoza (3.5 ppg)

Who is back?

Anna Gill (Sr., 10.8 ppg), Jasmine Fontana (Sr., 4.0 ppg), C.J. Yurcak (Jr., 3.3 rpg)

Storyline

There is a lot of reason for optimism for second year coach Vinny Cisneros. Whereas last season 22 girls tried out for the team, this season there were 41.

“We have a huge freshmen group that is going to do wonders for our program,” he said.

Sophomores and juniors will be getting substantial playing time for the Devils this year, too.

“With the style and pace of basketball we’re trying to play, we’re looking to get 10-11 girls in the rotation and really just work ourselves into an identity.” The pandemic prevented any opportunity for summer leagues, but with the return of open gyms and off-season tournaments against tough, front range competition, Cisneros witnessed important growth.

Jasmine Fontana made big strides this off-season, according to Eagle Valley coach Vinny Cisneros.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

The off-season maturation of Jasmine Fontana has Cisneros excited. “She’s really been putting in a lot of work in the weight room, working on her jump shot,” he said.

In the Gold Crown tournament this summer, she led the team in scoring.

“Her jump shot was much improved. The work she’s been putting in is definitely paying off right now. I look forward to seeing the production she has for us.”

Fontana, who focuses on basketball year-round, will be counted on early in the season with Gill, the returning leading scorer, likely sidelined with an ankle injury for the first 4-6 weeks of the season.

In their first matchup against Battle Mountain last year, the Devils were trounced, 56-14. In February, they played the Huskies much more competitively, losing 56-46. We’ll find out if they’ve closed the gap even more in this early season contest.

Vail Christian Saints

2020-21: 5-5 (2-3 league; 5th in 2A/1A Western Slope — North League)

Who is gone?

Zoey Barela (13.1 ppg, All-State honorable mention), Grace McCurdy (16.8 ppg, All-State honorable mention).

Who is back?

Maggie Green (Sr., 2.9 ppg) Daisy Palacio (Jr., 5.6 ppg)

Storyline

The Lady Saints graduated two great players in Barela and McCurdy. The class of 2021 accounted for 73% of their scoring offense. After three quarantines interrupted their previous season, head coach Tim Pierson said they are excited to get back together and hopefully play with fewer COVID-19 interruptions.

“We have a great group of players and are about having fun.”

The Western Slope — North league is loaded with teams that can make a run at state. The South league is pretty good, too, and Cedaredge was 14-2 in 2020-21. The Lady Saints host the Bruins Jan. 15 in an early season test.


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