Vail Valley preps: Huskies and Devils gear up for Round 2
OK, Round 2 is Saturday as Eagle Valley basketball calls on Battle Mountain.
(If you are reading this column, and play for Battle Mountain, please remember that you have a game today in Glenwood Springs. I’d really like to see someone knock the Demons of their blocks, and I don’t think that feeling is exclusive to either of the county’s 4A schools.)
Anyway, we’ve got a little bit of bulletin board material going into the boys’ game on Saturday. Eagle Valley’s seized upon Tom Padilla’s quote, “But my kids wanted it more.” after the Huskies won Round 1, 53-51, in Gypsum last month.
In fairness to Padilla, look at the context and the whole quote. The context is that Padilla has coached every one of the kids in Saturday’s game because he’s been coaching in the valley forever, and was the Eagle Valley JV coach before he got the head coaching job at Battle Mountain.
The full quote he said after another close game in Gypsum was, “Never dull. It was tough. Eagle, I’ve coached those kids. They’re a great bunch of kids and they played their hearts out. But my kids wanted it more.”
It’s not overly-incendiary as far as quotes go. It certainly doesn’t rise to Rusty Cox levels. The Moffat County soccer coach said, “We’ll beat them when we come home. I ain’t worried about it,” after the Bulldogs lost to Huskies soccer in September. Battle Mountain ended up throwing that quote back in the coach’s face by winning Round 2 up in Craig.
In fairness to Devils coach Brent McConaghy, he’s trying to get his team fired up, like any good coach should do.
I didn’t have space for his full quote after Tuesday’s Steamboat game, so here we go, “I think our guys are very pumped up. They read what coach Padilla said in the newspaper about their effort at the end of the game. I think that’s going to come back to haunt them a great deal. The seniors have lost two football games in row. They’ve lost (five) games in a row (between football and basketball). They know (Battle Mountain’s) a great team, but they know they can beat Battle Mountain.”
First off, no one’s using the world “ain’t.” That speaks well of everyone involved. (Cox did not help his cause there.) Second, I wonder why anyone needs any motivation here. It’s not like Tim Tebow is coming to speak before the game. (Lightning is probably not going to strike twice here for the Huskies.)
The storylines going into this one are simple. The Huskies want to win because they’d get a season sweep over the Devils, not to mention hearing the chant of “Just like football.”
The Devils want to win because they’re sick of losing to the Huskies, not to mention that if they do win Saturday, they probably sink Battle Mountain’s playoff chances. (Just a guess, but I don’t think CHSAA takes three from the Slope if Battle Mountain loses to league teams not named Glenwood or Steamboat Springs.)
If Padilla erred at all, and I think he’s only guilty of being proud of his team after a big win, it’s that both sides in any sport of this rivalry want nothing more than to beat the tar out of each other, which is what makes these showdowns great. The only thing that could make it better is if these two schools were going head-to-head for league titles and playoff spots.
As for the game itself:
• Battle Mountain’s Cody Hervert has got to the focus of attention. He was the difference last month with 24 points. Eagle Valley had no answer inside. That was Zeth Ramsey’s first game back from injury, so it’ll be interesting to see if we get to see those two go head-to-head more in the rematch.
• First off, congrats to Hervert. The kid – and yes, you are a kid, Cody, even though you are a BMOC – is having a great year so far, especially in basketball. He has made the leap from being tall to being a player.
And this helps us segue to Eagle Valley. There is talent there. Somebody has to step up and be “The Guy” or “The Guys.” (McConaghy probably would like the latter.) And the candidates are Cooper Senn, Jeremy Sabo and Sam Lounsberry. All three of you have the tools. You need to work and develop the swagger to do so. This can be done and it will not only be big on Saturday, but for the rest of your high school careers.
• And the same goes for Battle Mountain sophomore Jimmy O’Rourke.
• Outside, it’s a fun matchup with explosive guards on both sides. Both teams will want to get the 3-ball going early. That would be some combination of TIM Wells, Jesse Gish and Juan Baca for the Devils. (Lounsberry can pop the 3, too.) Look for Chris Duran, Joe LyBarger and Irving Ruacho for the Huskies.
• Officiating should be interesting for this one as well. The stripes let the teams play last time and that was fine. (I’m cool with calling a game either way – call them all or let them go, as long as it’s consistent.) Both teams will have to adjust to whichever way the refs call it this time around.
• That brings in the emotions. Both teams didn’t handle them too well in Round 1. The game was exciting, but ragged. By now, everyone should be used to the rivalry, be it basketball or football. The team that handles its emotion better has the edge.
• Should be fun. See you all there.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.