Vets lead and Huskies win
EDWARDS – When in doubt, go to the veterans.
And though that pool is thinning for Battle Mountain with Jimmy O’Rourke and Chris Duran out with injuries, Jake Engle and Joe LyBarger were just enough for the Huskies to eke by Summit County, 48-45, which happens to be coached by former Huskies head man Phil Tronsrue.
“We kind of have a connection. We’re like brothers, not by blood, but mentally,” said LyBarger of Engle – hey, the kid has three older sisters, so he could use a brother. “Once it’s the heat of the moment, it all starts going out. You don’t think. You just play. Jake’s the one.”
Engle had 17 points, while LyBarger had 15. The duo combined for 16 points in the decisive four quarter alone.
“That’s what we had to do,” Huskies coach Tom Padilla said. “It’s a character win for us. It doesn’t matter how we win, as long as we win. There’s no difference between winning by 100 or one. It was a good character win.”
And much needed for the Huskies (5-6) with the bulk of the 4A Slope slate ahead, starting at Steamboat Springs Friday.
LyBarger to Engle inside closed Summit’s fourth-quarter lead to 31-30. Battle Mountain’s Eric Gurule, another Huskies’ vet, knocked down a 16-footer with 6:13 left. Midway through the fourth, Engle had a 3-point play to pull the Huskies even at 35.
LyBarger drained a 3 with 3:18 to go, and then LyBarger to Engle gave the Huskies the lead for good at 40-38. LyBarger put an exclamation point on the affair with a ridiculous under-handed layup with 1:35 remaining.
“It’s just a little finger roll,” he said.
Engle, LyBarger and Alex Banegas sunk six-straight free throws to ice it.
Pregame introductions were a lot of fun. Battle Mountain’s players went out as they were called and shook hands as is customary with the visiting coach. That was a familiar face in Tronsrue, who coached the program from 2003-09, including the school’s only league title in boys’ basketball in 2006. As such, handshakes turned into pregame hugs with Dr. Phil, as he became known during his tenure here.
Looking ahead, Battle Mountain has five league games in the next 16 days – at Steamboat, Moffat County, at Glenwood Springs, Eagle Valley and at Palisade.
“We’re going to approach (Steamboat) just like any other game,” Padilla said. “I told the kids, ‘This year, no one picked us to go anywhere. Everybody picked us last in the league. We’re just going to go play. We’re going to play four quarters. We’re going to go hard.’ These kids have it in them.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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