We give you the Vail Valley’s high school games of the year in 2017-18
The year in preps
Thursday, May 24: The moments that mattered.
Friday, May 25: The best games of the year.
Saturday, May 26: Freud’s commencement address to the students.
Sunday, May 27: Freud’s commencement address to the parents.
These moments are why we watch.
Come on, high school parents. You know about what I am talking about. You travel to nether regions of this great state to watch all of your kids’ games, and a lot of them are not exactly masterpieces.
And then you go to a game — sometimes a big one and sometimes an inconsequential one — and it explodes into the greatest thing you’ve ever seen, making all those trips to Craig and Salida worthwhile.
These are the games of the year:
Burning out the scoreboard
In 20 previous basketball seasons, I had never seen one of our local basketball teams score 100 points in person. On Jan. 23, both Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain did it in the same game, with the Devils winning, 110-102.
One expects any contest between these two county rivals to be interesting and to hold some drama, but who in their right mind saw this coming?
Yes, with the up-tempo offense Eagle Valley ran, it’s sort of sports’ Murphy’s Law that the one game the Devils would light it up from beyond the arc had to be the Huskies.
But 16 3s and 60 points in the first half for the Devils?
Not even Eagle Valley coach Chris Walls could have drawn that up.
Kudos to the Devils for playing a different style of basketball. It gave them a chance to win some games after graduating 10 seniors the previous spring. And congratulations to the Huskies, who didn’t let this sink their season. Too many times the rivalry has a disproportionate effect on the entire schedule.
Not only did the Huskies make the playoffs, but they hosted their first playoff game since 2006.
We’ll be honest. I did not correctly quote Huskies lacrosse defenseman Jake Bukovich when he said, “Could someone score a goal?” This was on March 30 after two overtimes with Steamboat Springs and the Huskies and Sailors tied at four.
Jake might have added an extra word in there.
The Huskies did finally score a goal — Mike Barrows to Tucker Morrow — and won, 5-4, in triple overtime.
This marked the arrival of this team. They could play defense. They could overcome adversity — Jeremy Sforzo was injured at the time — and they found a way to win.
The season didn’t end at Mile High in the championship game because not everything is a fairy tale.
In other tragic news, at least Dawson didn’t win it.
Maybe Dawson will schedule Battle Mountain next year.
Heart attack city
As we have joked, Battle Mountain girls soccer is trying to kill everyone. The Huskies were playing for a league title and not an Oscar. They won at least one of those two by beating Palisade, 3-2, on May 3, on an Avery Weaver goal with 33 seconds left in double overtime.
I thought they were done. This was going to go down as a 2-2 tie/loss for the Huskies.
While we’ve joked a lot this spring about the team’s dramatics, something’s happening here. This group of Huskies is learning how to win. During this team’s 0-5 start in 2017, three of those defeats were by one goal.
Oh, the tide is turning. (The Teague family knows that this is Gregory Hines in “History of the World, Part I.)
Seriously, look out for this team next spring.
Kenny’s Mom (and the gang)
She’s Jaimee’s mom, too, people. But it is one of the best cheers of the year from a student section and it gives us an opportunity to talk about Eagle Valley volleyball.
Kenny’s (and Jaimee’s) Mom was and still is Jackie Rindy, who led the Devils to back to back 4A Slope titles.
The Kenny’s Mom chant started in the first meeting of the season between the Devils and Huskies on Sept. 12, and caught on so much that the coach put the cheer on her team sweatshirt.
The takeaway from this team was that it never gave up. After consecutive losses to Glenwood Springs and Palisade, the Devils were done, except that they weren’t.
Eagle Valley slugged it out with Steamboat Springs, beating their Sailors in five games, an won the tiebreaker on point differential in its matches with Glenwood.
This tested Freud’s higher math skills.
While we’re here, I’m have to say that I am going to miss the way senior Becy Glutova smashes a ball into oblivion.
The play of the year
In the little football box score I do with every football game I cover, it reads, “B – Traver Goldberg, 35 run (run good), 3:40.”
I had completely forgotten that Goldberg ran 35 yards for a touchdown against Eagle Valley on Oct. 27 because that little 2-point conversion was the simultaneously artistry and insanity.
Senior Breeam Bandenberg, aka Boomer, lined up as the as the kicker for the point-after try. He did a backflip, and while everyone watched Boomer, the Huskies snapped the ball on the right side of the field and Kia Gongaware scored the conversion without being touched.
Best. Play. Ever.
Oh, yeah, the Huskies won the game.
They were really good
Seriously, you want to help me out here? What is the best moment of Battle Mountain running this year?
Was it when the Huskies won cross-country regionals for the seventh year in a row?
Was it when they repeated as state champions in cross-country?
Was it when Elizabeth Constien won the state individual title in cross-country?
Was it when the Vail Valley Running Club (i.e. the Huskies in different uniforms) won Nike Cross Regionals in Arizona?
Was it when the Vail Valley Running Club finished third at Nike Cross Nationals?
Was it when the Huskies track and field team rewrote all sorts of records?
Was it when the Huskies repeated as 4A Slope champions in track and field?
Was it when the girls’ 3,200-meter relay team repeated as state champs?
Pick one at your peril. I dunno. I kinda ran out of words, and that’s pretty rare for me.
OK, I didn’t run out of words. I have more.
The Harding sisters didn’t encounter any misfortune such as getting hit by a bus after a 2016-17 when they were hit by everything but famine and pestilence.
Elizabeth Constein’s a stud. I don’t have a vote, but she’s my Battle Mountain Senior Athlete, regardless of gender.
Grace Johnson. Is. A. Sophomore?
There’s more in the pipeline, people. This run ain’t stopping.
But please do give it up for Alex Raichart. The senior is the unsung hero — if that’s possible — for this acclaimed crew of athletes. Yes, Constein and the Harding sisters — Lizzy and Naomi — got individual honors and ran faster. But no one was more consistent for the last four years than Raichart.
I’d talk to coach Rob Parish and he’d talk about how so-and-so had “an off day.” Never Raichart. If anything, then she raised her game in big races, be it cross-county or track.
Was it coincidence that Raichart took the lead at state in consecutive years during her legs of the 4-by-8? Not a chance.
Well done, Alex.
Here comes Joslin
All of the above makes Eagle Valley’s Joslin Blair’s accomplishments, particularly winning the 1,600 at state last weekend, all the more impressive.
While she never said so, she was facing a Goliath of tremendous runners in her own county. How can you not be intimidated by this pack of gold that seems to be running you down at every meet be it fall or spring?
Running is a very individual activity, but having your teammates back you in competitions really helps.
Be it cross-country or track, Blair was by herself running against Battle Mountain and the state, and neither were good enough to stop her.
She finished seventh at the state cross-country meet, fifth in the open 800 meters at state track, third in the 3,200 and first in the mile.
The scary thing? She’s just getting started.