Scrappy Huskies outshine Lights
EAGLE-VAIL – All the Battle Mountain boys basketball team wanted for the holidays was to start strong in its early slate of games before the winter break.Tuesday night in Eagle-Vail the Huskies taped down the last corners of wrapping paper and stamped a big fat bow on to a present they made for themselves with a win over previously unbeaten 3A Denver Lutheran, 55-45.With surprising 6-2 record, coach Philip Tronsrue’s team now has two weeks to savor its early season success – something out of the ordinary at Battle Mountain in years past.”It just feels real good to be 6-2 because we’ve been struggling as a basketball team for the past couple of years and we finally have a good program and good coaching,” junior guard Derek Rush said afterward. “I feel good about it.”Surging backThe thing Tronsrue was most pleased about during his post-game talk in the locker room was that his team rallied back from an early deficit in the second quarter to pull ahead before the half and then maintained its momentum for the remainder of the game.
The coach said previous Battle Mountain teams would have most likely folded under similar circumstances – but this year’s Huskies squad appears to be made out of a different mold.”The guys know that we don’t want to have a loss going into the break because that means we give up that whole time,” Tronsrue said. “We wanted to have a win and be on a good high so that everybody is working hard during the break and getting ready for when we come back.”To avoid a loss the Huskies had to claw back after the Lights blasted out on a 10-4 run to start the second quarter. Both teams ended the first eight minutes of action tied at 11-11. Denver Lutheran seniors Daniel Cattau and Ben Ahlman – the Lights’ two leading scorers in the game – sparked the run. Ahlman tipped in his team’s first basket, then Cattau blew open a one-point lead with a 3-pointer from the top of the arc.While the Lights were finding their range outside, the Huskies continued to chip away inside with big men Trent Beckley and Connor Drumm.Senior forward Rogelio Loya also helped his team’s cause by burying a 3-pointer of his own to size down the Lights’ lead to 21-20.Cattau tipped in one more basket for his team before the half, before the Huskies took over to close out the quarter with four more points – two free-throws from Beckley and a lay-in from Drumm in the post.
“Most games we try to establish our game down low first,” Beckley said. “If we continually establish it down low it can open up the shots outside. We did that tonight because we got some open shots and we played good defense. That was real important.” ‘Defense wins game’With a teensy 1-point lead, the Huskies sutured down on defense in the second half to add to their advantage. Tronsrue used a half-court, 2-3 zone with a twist to keep the opposition’s big offensive threats from getting easy buckets against his team’s smaller back court.When Ahlman took over the point-guard duties, he was met on the perimeter by one of the Huskies’ big men who would switch spots with a smaller guard. When Ahlman dished and then tried to snake his way inside off screens – something Cattau also tried repeatedly – Tronsrue’s crew continued to keep the switches coming and made sure that the Lights’ two brightest bulbs were almost always swarmed under.The game plan went to form.
“What we did is we know that their big scorer (Ahlman) starts at the point, he kicks it to the wing, he gets a post screen and he slips to the low blocks,” Tronsrue said. “We just switched it up off that. We go 5-foot-7, 5-foot-9 (with our guards) and there’s no way we can play that way, so we have to switch it up and keep our guards out, kept our posts in.”Rush also said he and his teammates made a concerted effort to make more hustle plays to get more scoring opportunities on offense.”In our two losses that we’ve had, we haven’t been going for the rebounds or going for the loose balls,” he said. “We figured that defense wins the games and we have to go after every loose ball and chance we’ve got.”Senior Thomas Pacheco also had a big night offensively for the Huskies matching Rush and Beckley who each had eight points.Drumm finished with five points off 2-7 shooting and one free throw. The Huskies next tip off at Summit Jan. 6 at 7 p.m.Staff Writer Nate Peterson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.