Rifle nips Eagle Valley basketball in final minute | VailDaily.com

Rifle nips Eagle Valley basketball in final minute

Bears win in final ticks

GYPSUM — That was a heartbreaker on Senior Night.

Eagle Valley boys basketball hit a whopping 15 3-pointers on Tuesday night but dropped a 68-66 thriller to Rifle in Gypsum.

What will sting is the Bears Trey Lujan marauding to the basket for a 3-point play that gave the visiting Bears a 67-66 lead with 16 seconds left. Devils coach Justin Brandt clearly felt that Lujan should have been whistled for the charge.

In fairness, Eagle Valley likely got a break of its own with 57 seconds left. The Devils and Bears were scrambling for possession on the other end of the court and somehow Brandt got a timeout. Whether the Devils had the ball or not, well, they got the timeout.

Rifle contested that call too loudly, earning a technical and sending Keegan Garvey to the line. Garvey sank both shots for a 66-64 lead. The Devils tried to use the ensuing possession of the technical to work the clock, but missed the front end of a 1-and-1.

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However one interprets the final minute of the game, it made for a thrilling Senior Night as Eagle Valley honored Matthew Turner, Keegan Garvey, Justin Hoppin, Tristen Clark, and Nando Vidaurri.

“It’s hard for the seniors,” Brandt said. “They have put in a lot of hard work and not had the success they have dreamed of. I guess the good and the bad of it is that we don’t have a lot of time to dwell on it.”

It also may serve as a warning shot of sorts. There’s no better way to go into the Battle Mountain game in Edwards on Thursday than by sinking 15 3s. That probably aroused some memories of 2018 when the Devils went crazy from the 3-point line in a 110-102 win in Edwards. (Seriously, there are still Huskies fans in the fetal position after that game.)

Eagle Valley’s explosion from downtown was not designed.

“A lot of that was what Rifle gives up,” Brandt said. “They were just giving it to us and you’ve got to take it.”

Garvey led the way with 19, while Bryan Martinez had 15 and Branden Vigil 12.

Devils make it two in a row

OK, so why does the season have to end when Eagle Valley girls’ basketball is just getting in a groove?

The Devils won their second in a row  — they knocked off Summit on Saturday in an overtime thriller — by dusting Rifle, 44-23, on Tuesday for Senior Night.

They’ve got big mo going into Thursday night’s intergalactic showdown at Battle Mountain. Who says the season has to stop just because the schedule says so?

“It’s bittersweet,” Devils senior Cody Eaton said. “We’ve found our culture and it’s fun again. It’s a bummer that it’s over so soon, but it’s great to end it well.”

Kaitlin Medina poured in 19 points and A.J. Martinez finished with 10. Meanwhile, Eagle Valley’s defense held the visiting Bears to just five points during the second half.

Yes, Eagle Valley has struggled this year with a 4-14 record, but it is about the journey — as trite as that may sound. While Saturday’s win over Summit was the runaway winner for best moment on the court during the postgame ceremonies, a lot of the experience is off the hardwood.

“The fun moments, a lot of them are behind closed doors,” Eaton said. “It’s the moments when we’re all laughing together, cheering together and just being together.”

The team’s seniors include Eaton, Joslin Blair, Martinez, Medina, Arianna Pena, and McKayla Williams.

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