Battle Mountain beats Rifle…at last
Battle Mountain beats Rifle … at lastHuskies’ boys take out the Bears, 67-55By Chris FreudVail CorrespondentEAGLE-VAIL – In 2002, Battle Mountain boys basketball, coached by Kyle Haganess, finally got over the hump by beating Steamboat Springs. But since moving to 4A, the Huskies had never beaten Rifle.Not until Saturday night. Battle Mountain polished off the Bears, 67-55, to even its conference mark at 1-1 and raise its overall record to 7-2. “It’s a really big step,” Huskies coach Philip Tronsrue said. “I don’t know how far in the past it goes. Since I’ve been here, we’ve never beaten Rifle. It’s a big win. That’s another chip we’ve got in our belts now. I’m still looking to get Steamboat. We’re looking good now.”As a side note, Coach, Steamboat’s in town next weekend. But in the meantime, Saturday’s win was just what the doctor ordered after a surprising loss at Glenwood Friday night. “More than anything I’m pleased with how we responded after last night’s game,” Tronsrue said. “We came out and took control. No disrespect for Rifle, but we should have come out and got all over them and that’s what we did.” Banging the DrummIn that loss, Battle Mountain’s Connor Drumm had just nine points. The senior more than atoned for that performance one night later. Drumm dropped 19 points on the Bears in the first half on the way to a game-high 22.”It was in my head all today and all last night,” Drumm said. “I came out focused and I had to get it done tonight. It’s instinct. You have to recover from a game like that.”And it was a familiar story line for the Huskies with Drumm’s partner in crime, Trent Beckley, also having a great night with 17 points and 13 rebounds.”Basically, we just wanted to get those two players to pass the ball,” Bears coach Chris Lowther said. “If they caught it, we wanted to get two guys on them and make them kick it out. First half, they did a nice job of having other players stepping up.”One of those players was Derek Rush who popped three 3s in the first half to spoil Rifle’s defensive strategy.”We’ve talked to the guards for more than a year, telling them, ‘We believe in you. You can make those shots. Have confidence in yourself,'” Tronsrue said. “Derek came out and knocked some big shots down. … That’s what we need to keep everyone honest with Connor and Trent inside.”It also didn’t help that Drumm showed a deft touch from beyond the arc with five treys of his own.”Connor Drum is just an incredible player as far as being able to elevate over us and shoot the 3,” Lowther said. “That’s just a good player hitting a good shot.”A Gustavo Bronfield jumper at the first-quarter buzzer gave Battle Mountain a 22-15 lead. The Huskies poured it on with 23 more points in the second quarter to lead at intermission, 45-25.That cushion allowed Tronsrue to empty his bench for a good part of the second half.”We need to work on limiting our turnovers, valuing the basketball a little more, valuing every possession a little more, making sure we get the shots we want every possession,” Lowther said. “If we have possessions where we don’t get a good shot for us, we’re going to struggle.”Rivalry TuesdayRifle (1-1, 7-2) hosts archrival, Glenwood Springs, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. Meanwhile, Tronsrue’s crew goes down to Gypsum for its nemesis, Eagle Valley, also at 7:30 p.m.”We’re excited about going down there,” Tronsrue said. “I don’t think we have to do a lot to emotionally be ready. I think what helps is that we were able to play a lot of guys tonight, so we’re not physically drained. We’re able to get a Sunday rest, come out Monday and go through stuff and then get ready to step into Gypsum Tuesday night.”Rifle girls dispatch HuskiesRifle fans could not have asked for a better start to the 4A Slope season for their girls basketball team.The Bears made it a weekend sweep of Eagle County’s teams this weekend with a 58-33 win at Battle Mountain Saturday night. The night before, Rifle took care of Eagle Valley in Garfield County. “It’s a really good start for us,” Bears coach Jack Smith said. “We’re a really young team. I usually start three sophomores and two juniors. They’re playing really well.”One of those sophomores is Kendall Babler who led all scorers with 20 points Saturday.”Kendall’s picking her game up,” Smith said. “I like Kendall’s game. I like how it’s going. She’s been picking up a little more all the time.””We were really nervous, but we were ready,” Babler said. “In the preseason, we weren’t doing really well. So, we were just ready. We were hyper before the game. We have confidence in ourselves. We might be small, but we’re fast. We believe in ourselves.”It was tight early, but Babler and Kristin Guettler put together a quick six-point run at the end of the first quarter to give Rifle a 14-5 lead. Rifle’s perimeter game put this one away in the second period. Babler had two treys and Guettler (13 points total) had another from downtown, and the Bears were up 32-16 at the break.For Battle Mountain, it was a tough weekend. Lauren Prewitt and Kaeli Hosler led the Huskies with 12 points each.”As far as this weekend, it was tough coming back from the break,” Ernesto Arredondo said. “It’s a long break. … It is tough to come back and get these women to actually start playing again. We’re improving slowly. It’s going to take some time.”While Rifle (2-0 in the Slope and 5-5 overall) hosts Glenwood Springs Tuesday at 6 p.m., the Huskies (0-2, 2-6) head to Gypsum for the first of two this season against archrival, Eagle Valley at 6 p.m. Arredondo says inside play will be key against the Devils.”It’s a tough place to play,” he said. “They don’t have a big man like we do. Our big man should be able to go in there and score 17-20 points. We should at least beat them inside. If they’re going to kill us from the 3, that’s fine. But we should be able to pound them inside.”
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The Coal Ridge High boys suffered their first 3A Western Slope League loss of the year Thursday night on the road at Gunnison, falling to the defending league champion Cowboys 65-45.