Vail Valley preps: Tuesday’s instant classic
That, kids, is what a rivalry game is meant to be like – packed house, big swings of momentum, emotion and a big finish – in Battle Mountain’s boys basketball’s 63-57 win Tuesday at Eagle Valley.
We had it all in Round 1 – the rematch is Feb. 16 up in Edwards, just in case anyone’s interested. About the only thing wrong the game was that the Huskies and Devils aren’t higher up in the standings so that game meant a little more than bragging rights. (See boys soccer, though I’m still ticked both of those games ended in ties.)
And I’d like to see this happen in all sports. I know I got a lot of flack for a column two falls ago about how I was rooting (against all reason) for Battle Mountain football against the Devils because that series was so lopsided.
Yes, the Huskies beat Battle Mountain, last fall but that proves my point. One team beating the snot out of another in sport does not a rivalry make, though admittedly it is fun when it’s your school on the right side. Now there is actually a rivalry on both sides of I-70 when it comes to football. Eagle Valley is counting down the days until Nov. 5 – it’s Week 10 this year – and Battle Mountain doubtless wants to get the Devils at its new field.
For now, we’ll take boys basketball:
• The comeback for Battle Mountain was big, but during my tenure, Jan. 16, 2005, remains the Huskies’ biggest rally. Down 28-6 against Glenwood with 5:14 left in the first half, the Huskies won, 58-52. That turned out to be the beginning of something for Battle Mountain. Some guy named Connor Drumm had 20 points and held the Demons’ Sean Flohr (yes, that same family) to 10. The next year, the Huskies edged out Glenwood for the school’s only boys basketball league title.
• Does history repeat itself? Way too early to call that. If I’m Battle Mountain, I’m really worried about Moffat tonight. About the only thing that been consistent with Battle Mountain has been its inconsistency. Yes, the Huskies should win, but favored status is scary thing for them.
• I couldn’t believe that Huskies coach Tom Padilla did not call a timeout during the first quarter. Gutsy move by the coach. Conventional wisdom says you do anything to break the other team’s momentum here. Padilla said after the game that he wanted his team to play though it, which surprisingly the Huskies did.
• The lesson Eagle Valley takes out of the first quarter? You guys can play with anyone as the second half of the Slope season starts. Yes, that quarter was one of those moments where everything you touch turns to gold, but there is some serious talent in Devil-dom. You come out like that and sustain the effort – and that’s key, because not every shot will fall – you will beat teams down the stretch.
• Case in point: Zeth Ramsey had his best game of the year. Hey, Bryce Zehring’s got a great touch. Willie Magic’s a sniper. (I’m tired of looking up his last name.) Sam Lounsberry’s a freshman? The latter three kept the Devils in the game after Ramsey fouled out. Remember that when you’re down late and facing adversity later in the season. You’ve got this.
• Many what-ifs in this one, but what if Lounsberry’s 3 falls at 60-57. Devils coach Pat Gabriel said after the game that he was ready to call a timeout, press for the steal and that the Devils had the play for the go-ahead bucket. That brings back some memories of Cesar Castillo with the 3 at the buzzer in 2007.
• Overlooked moment: The Huskies’ Goofy (Miguel Copas) takes the charge from the Devils’ Mike Warfield in the second quarter.
• By the way, Battle Mountain, no more trying for dunks or alley-ops this season. Take the easy bucket or Padilla will probably have you running suicides until April.
• Fans on both sides were fantastic. I loved the Eagle Valley partisans in hunting orange and cowboys hats playing to Battle Mountain’s stereotype of its rivals. Quailty.
• Most surreal moment of the evening: Huskies fans canting, “Just like football.” Who would have thought we’d live long enough to hear that? But be careful, Huskies Nation, these things have a way of coming back to haunt you – be it in the basketball or on the gridiron.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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.