GYPSUM — Eagle Valley boys’ basketball has been waiting for this.
This was too good of an offensive squad to be on the skids as 4A Slope play began earlier this month. The Devils finally got it going on Thursday night in Gypsum with a 68-57 win over Summit County.
Just look at the starting lineup — Carlos Quezada, Tony Hernandez, Jesse Moser, Jacob Medina, and Xaver Johnson. They’re all seniors. They all played last season. They all know how to light it up. Remember last season? Scoring wasn’t the problem. (Spoiler alert: Defense was the issue.)
“I think we did a good job of taking the shots Summit gave us,” Devils coach Justin Brandt said. “We didn’t try to force the 3. If they gave us a layup, we took that. If they rotated, we took that. We did a good job of taking the higher percentage shots.”
And an 0-3 start in the Slope is over.
Hernandez, in a way, symbolized the season within Thursday’s game. He took a nasty spill while going for a loose ball. After hitting the hardwood with a disconcerting sound, he got up, was good for a layup and a 3, while taking a charge in between those scores.
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And it just flowed from there for the Devils (5-6 overall and 1-3 in the Slope) with a solid team effort. Quezada popped a 3 late in the first quarter. Moser started the second with a layup. Johnson followed with a steal and an easy deuce.
With 4:19 left in the half, Medina had the fast break, but layups are for wimps. He just stopped at the arc and drilled a 3 for a 30-13 lead.
“It felt good,” said Hernandez, who had a double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds. “Last year, we had a few games when we struggled offensively, and then it clicked. Same thing this year. We just need to keep our momentum up.”
Within this outburst and throughout the game, the Devils also received good minutes and hustle off the bench from James Erickson, Gabe Tena, and, in the second, half, Dre Lozano.
Medina led the Devils with 18, while Moser had 12. Quezada and Johnson finished with nine points each.
The matter before Brandt’s squad is doing this repeatedly and clawing its way back into the league race. The Devils have Rifle tonight.
And, perhaps, a clue is in the stats.
“Our key is to minimize turnovers,” Brandt said. “When we 20 or more turnovers, we lose. When we have less than 20, we win. If we keep the turnovers down, I think we can play with anyone.”
Lady Devils lose
Summit County’s Karen Barrios’ jumper with 17 seconds left in regulation lifted the visiting Tigers to a 36-35 victory over Eagle Valley girls basketball on Thursday night.
The Devils (2-10, 0-4) entered the final quarter with a 26-24 lead. Eagle Valley’s Mady Callis drained two 3s during the final eight minutes, and Kaitlin Medina had a layup with 51 seconds remaining in the game for a 35-34 advantage before Barrios struck.
“I just think we’re still learning how to win,” Devils coach Beth Raitt said. “We’re a young team and we’ve had a lot of injuries. That changes our rotations throughout the game. We’re going to keep working hard.”
Both sets of Devils host Rifle tonight at 5:30 and 7 p.m.