Vail Valley preps: Huskies rally for win against Devils
GYPSUM – The new gym on the campus of Eagle Valley High School has been worth every penny so far in its short two-year history.
For two straight years it’s hosted an excellent volleyball team, and come winter, it’s been the site of two thrillers between Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley boys basketball.
And Tuesday, the Huskies again came away with a thrilling 53-51 win over the Devils, one year after erasing a 22-4 deficit on the way to a 63-57 victory in the new digs.
“Never dull. It was tough,” said Huskies coach Tom Padilla, who has also coached in Gypsum as an assistant. “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.”
In fairness, both team teams left it all out on the court. Battle Mountain made the clutch plays in final 75 seconds.
Trailing 49-47 with 1:15 left in the game, Battle Mountain’s Joe LyBarger got a steal and chucked it over to Cody Hervert for the layup and the tie. The Huskies’ Eric Gurule pounced at the right moment, stealing the ball on the Devils’ next possession and running it in for two.
“I just knew he was going to dribble,” Gurule said. “It was key. We needed it. Gotta make those plays.”
After Eagle Valley’s Todd Wells missed a 3, Hervert came up with a big rebound and hit teammate Jimmy O’Rourke for a layup and a 51-47 advantage,
With five seconds left, Wells went to the hole to close it to 51-49, but got tangled up with Battle Mountain’s Chris Duran, losing precious seconds as the Huskies were able to close it out.
“It’s the eighth game we’ve lost at the end,” said Devils coach Brent McConaghy, whose team finished the first half of league play with a 2-4 mark (5-9 overall). “It’s the same problem – fouling the wrong guys, giving up free throws and turning the ball over. When we play aggressive hard-nosed defense nobody can stop us.”
Case in point was a good portion of the first half when the Devils took a 15-7 lead with 6:07 left in the second period. The refs let the guys play and this turned into a physical contest where going into the paint was the same thing as an invitation to a meat-grinder.
“They were letting us play, but we fought through. It was good,” said Hervert, who led everyone with 24 points. “It helps when I get mad. I feel fired up and I get into it.”
Lots of Huskies and Devils got into it. The Huskies’ Irving Ruacho came out firing in the second half, sinking three 3-pointers from the baseline. The Devils responded with a trey from Sam Lounsberry (13 points total) and two buckets from Zeth Ramsey, who returned to action Tuesday from injury, to close Battle Mountain’s lead to 38-35 after three quarters.
The lead changed six times in the fourth quarter alone.
Two freebies from James VanDyke gave Eagle Valley a 40-38 lead. (Free throws were big in this one as the Huskies were 11-for-16, while the Devils were 5-for-16.). Ruacho replied with a 3. Cooper Senn made it 42-41 Eagle Valley with a layup. Hervert then went to the line and knocked down two to give the Huskies a 43-42 lead. The Devils’ Juan Baca nearly blew the roof off the gym with a 3. Hervert responded with his form of a 3-pointer, a lay-in and a foul shot.
Lounsberry hit a long jumper, and Baca followed with a lay-up for the Devils’ final lead at 49-47.
The Huskies (2-3, 8-7) snapped a three-game losing streak with the win and it was their third-straight win against Eagle Valley. The two teams play again Feb. 12 up in Edwards.
Devils beat Huskies in girls game
Eagle Valley girls basketball coach Sam Bartlett called it “a few choice words.” Eagle Valley junior Cori Cramer said it was “a reality check.”
Whatever was said at halftime of the Devils’ game Tuesday with Battle Mountain in Gypsum, it worked. Eagle Valley started the second half with a 10-0 run on its way to a 45-24 win over the Huskies, the Devils’ sixth straight against their archrivals.
“We needed to pick it up,” Cramer said. “We came out lazy. We just needed to pick up the pace a little and push the ball up the court.”
Leading just 19-12 after 16 minutes, the Devils blew out of the gate with a 16-footer from Kayla Gagnon. Bri Roth added a jumper and then Nicole Harvey poured in the next six points and the Devils were on their way to upping their league mark to 2-4 and their overall record to 5-9.
“In the second half we started playing with more confidence,” Bartlett said. “Hopefully, a win will give us confidence going into the second half of league.”
Gagnon finished with 13 points, while Cramer had 12.
The Huskies made a good showing of it without their leading scorer, Kenia Olivas, who turned her ankle in practice Monday. Battle Mountain’s Katia Lopez led her team with 15 points.
“They fought hard,” Huskies coach Andrew Schmid said. “They believed they could win. They could of. Our offense struggled in the second half. We couldn’t move the ball.”
Both sets of Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley teams are in action Friday. The Huskies host Palisade, while the Devils get a visit from Delta.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.