Vail Valley showdown: Huskies rally past Devils
GYPSUM – In the east stands of the Eagle Valley gym, Tuesday night’s Huskies-Devils boys basketball game was the most phenomenal first-quarter ever followed by a heart-breaking collapse.
In the west stand, everyone couldn’t believe how awful the first quarter was, but everything ended wonderfully with a stunning comeback.
While both sides don’t agree on much generally, Tuesday night’s game was a great one.
Eagle Valley jumped out to a 14-0 lead over archrival Battle Mountain just four minutes into Tuesday’s game and led 22-4 after the first period. But in one of the more stunning comebacks in Battle Mountain history, the Huskies rallied for 63-57 win Tuesday night in Gypsum.
“That was nightmare,” Battle Mountain coach Tom Padilla said. “I told these kids in the locker room that Eagle was going to come out strong. I didn’t think they were going to come out that strong. But I told them we have to fight through it and we kept our composure.
“It’s huge. Eagle played a great game. Give their kids all the credit. But we know we can come back from 18. We fought back. Our kids rose to the occasion.”
As jubilant as Padilla and the Huskies were, the mood was equally somber in the Devils’ locker room.
“The first quarter, they were playing the way we’ve been teaching them to play,” Devils coach Pat Gabriel said. “They played well. I was really pleased. I’m really frustrated that they can display that and they can’t maintain it. It means we just have to work harder. … Battle Mountain really battled. I guess that why they call them Battle Mountain.”
In front of packed house with the fans of both teams going back and forth with each other, Eagle Valley almost pulled this one out, despite losing its early lead and big-man Zeth Ramsey, who fouled out with 6:53 remaining.
“He makes a difference in the game,” Gabriel said. “He’s a stallion. What happens when we’re without him, our adjustments aren’t always the best.”
Ramsey had a superb game, getting 14 points, including two 3-point plays, by going hard to the basket. Despite his absence and a 10-point deficit with 2:46 to go at 59-49, the Devils fought back.
Freshman Sam Lounsberry dropped three straight jumpers, and by the time Bryce Zehring, who ended the night with 14 points, drained two free throws, Eagle Valley was down just 60-57.
Eagle Valley’s Troy Harris got the steal and the ball went out to Lounsberry for the 3, but his attempt missed. Battle Mountain successfully inbounded the ball with 2.5 seconds left in the game and the Huskies’ Shawn Martinez took the obligatory foul and went to the line – after waiting through timeouts by both teams.
“I’ve got all the confidence in the world in Shawn,” Padilla said. “In practice, he’s probably the one who’s going to knock all those shots down.”
“It was really nervous after they called the second timeout,” Martinez said. “I was even asking the refs, ‘Can they just let me shoot, please?'”
Martinez sunk both shots, helping the Huskies snap a four-game losing streak, upping their Slope record to 2-5.
Padilla inserted Martinez as a defensive substitute at guard because absolutely nothing was working for the Huskies early. Meanwhile, the Devils could do no wrong in the first quarter. The Huskies outscored the Devils 20-7 in the second quarter to pull themselves back into the game.
But in the third period, Martinez’s defense proved to be the difference. Tied at 42 with 1:22 to go in the third period, Martinez stole two consecutive inbounds passes and converted them into easy layups, giving Battle Mountain the lead for good at 46-42.
While Martinez was at the line at the end of the game, there were plenty of heroes on both sides. The Huskies’ Edward Banegas had 13 points, while point-guard Robert Weiss was superb defensively and also had 11 points. Parker Lathrop finished the night with 10, including a huge 3 in the second quarter that seemed to get his team going. Miguel Copas was also clutch with 12.
For the Devils, both Zehring and Harris (eight points) powered the hosts out to their early lead. Willie Magdziuk poured in 12 points, most of them in the second half when Eagle Valley was trying to hold off Battle Mountain’s charge.
Eagle Valley girls 64, Battle Mountain girls 34
About 15 minutes before game time Tuesday, Devils coach Jamie Mayne got the word.
Point-guard Brenda Zapata, who went down with a knee injury at the beginning of the conference slate earlier this month, was ready to go.
While Zapata saw limited playing time, it was just one piece of good news for Eagle Valley which got its first league win by downing the Huskies, 64-34, Tuesday night.
“Oh, it feels good,” said Jamie Bair, who team snapped a six-game skid. “Our enthusiasm to go into the game was up. We were up to play our rivals and the crowd was great.”
Eagle Valley’s press was too much for Battle Mountain, producing numerous offensive opportunities.
“In the past, we’ve been to break the press pretty well,” Huskies coach Andrew Schmid said. “Today, we weren’t executing our press-break. We weren’t running through our plays at the beginning.”
“I think our intensity comes from our press,” Devils coach Jamie Mayne said. “Basically, we press every team regardless of the situation because we play better on offense. Our girls did a great job running the offense and rebounding. It was awesome.”
Bair ended up with 14 as did Jazmine Zapata as the Devils led 17-4 after eight minutes and 36-15 at the half. Adriana Morken led the Huskies with 10 points.
Both schools are home on Friday to start the second half of the Slope season. The Devils host Steamboat Springs Friday, while the Huskies have Moffat County in Edwards.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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