Power shifts in Devils-Huskies rivalry
GYPSUM — Battle Mountain girls basketball turned Gypsum into Upset City on Tuesday night, shocking the Devils, 39-36.
That, ladies and germs, is the Huskies ladies’ first win over their archrivals since Jan. 22, 2008. Eagle Valley had beaten their eastern county rivals 15 times in a row since.
“It’s been a while,” Huskies coach Paul Stephens said. “For our program, it’s a great step with our younger kids coming up. We can start competing. The thing is the defense won it for us.”
Battle Mountain (10-3 overall and 3-2 in the Slope) led early and held off a late charge from the Devils with tough defense and clutch free-throw shooting — the Huskies going 18-for-20 from the line is your key stat of the game.
The Huskies led 21-17 after three quarters and then all heck broke loose. Eagle Valley’s Mady Callis seemed to be the hero of the night, coming off the bench, hitting two clutch 3s. Regan Bossow gave Eagle Valley a 34-31 lead with 2:33 left, but the Huskies kept their composure.
Monique Stephens sank two free throws — this will be a theme. Dylan Barker had a steal and a layup with 1:49 left to give the Huskies the lead for good at 35-34. Claire Krueger sank two more freebies.
Bossow had a reverse layup that had the Devils believing again, but two more free throws from Stephens iced it.
For Eagle Valley (9-6, 2-2), Tuesday marks a remarkable reversal of fortune after beating two-time defending Slope champion Palisade on Friday.
“I feel like we have some kind of after-affect from beating Palisade,” Devils coach Sam Bartlett said. “Beating Palisade was a step in right direction. Now, I feel like we’ve taken some steps backward the last couple nights. I don’t want to take anything away from Battle Mountain. They were gutsy and deserved to win.”
Devils hang on in nightcap
It wasn’t a work of art, but, then again, rivalry games rarely are.
The Eagle Valley boys basketball team completed a 4-0 home stand by holding off Battle Mountain, 45-43, during Tuesday’s rivalry nightcap.
And like the lidlifter, Tuesday’s game was a change in power in the Eagle County rivalry as the Devils got their first win over the Huskies since 2014.
“It feels great,” Devils coach Chris Walls said. “I’m proud of the guys for hanging in there. We were pulling away, but (Huskies coach) Phil (Tronsrue) always has his guys battling. Very much like (Monday) night against Glenwood, we found a way.”
The plotlines of “Who’s playing?” were solved early. Battle Mountain’s Devin Huffman (ankle) and Eagle Valley’s Dawson Keller (flu) were both back in their respective lineups.
As expected, Huffman did his damage (14 points), but he usually had an escort of Jesus Loera or Keller or both, particularly in the paint.
Eagle Valley (10-5, 3-1) seemed to have a comfortable lead of 25-11 at the half, but nothing ever comes easily in this series.
The Huskies’ Miles Joersz canned a 3 to pull the Huskies within 38-37 with 3:14 left in the game. Loera and Robert Redinger traded buckets to make it 40-39 in favor of Eagle Valley.
The Devils’ Matthew Sanchez sank two big free throws. Teammate Jimmy Murphy went 1-for-2, but Garrett Martin got a key rebound, which eventually sent Arturo Loera to the line for two successful shots and a 44-40 lead.
And speaking of free throws, Battle Mountain was 6-for-16 from the line, and that was Tronsrue’s main topic of conversation after the game.
“We’ve talked about it after every ballgame, and until we decide we’re going to do something individually about making our free throws and increasing our free-throw percentage as a team, we’re going to continue to have games like this, and we’re going to continue to walk out with an L,” he said.
Battle Mountain (5-10, 2-3) hosts Rifle on Thursday, while Eagle Valley tries again to head over the pass to face Summit County.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.