EDWARDS - No. 8 didn't get No. 8 Friday night.
The Vail Christian girls basketball team pulled the upset, knocking off No. 8-ranked Gilpin County, 28-26, at the Wheeler Athletic Center in Edwards. The visiting Eagles entered Friday night's game with a perfect 7-0 record.
And, by the by, that was nice payback for Vail Christian. Gilpin ended the Saints' season last year in the regional playoffs, one game short of the state tournament.
"That was a really good win," Saints coach Doug Bruce said. "The good thing about tonight was that we played good defense, but we also played good offense, I thought. We got good looks. They just didn't fall. We can work with that."
"It's really exciting to beat a team like that," Vail Christian senior Paris Baker said. "They are so aggressive. To match that strength and pressure is really nice."
The Saints trailed 22-21, going into the fourth quarter. A Kyra Webb layup gave the Vail Christian the lead for good with 6:46 left in the game. Baker, who led the Saints with eight, added to the lead with a hard bucket from the paint.
Gracen McGuckin pushed the Saints' advantage to 27-22 with 4:51 to go. McGuckin added a free throw for Vail Christian's final points, and then it was nail-biting time.
That was the only freebie the Saints got on the way home. The Saints were 0-for-7 from the stripe until McGuckin hit. Bruce said the team will be addressing that in practice next week.
But as has been the Saints' calling card all season, the defense carried it home. Also of note was the Saints' ability to break Gilpin County's press. That defense has previously been the bane of Vail Christian's existence. Friday night, guards McGuckin and Jessie Hartley handled it with aplomb.
The Saints (5-1) head to face Jim Elliot Christian today at 3:30 p.m.
There was no drama in the nightcap. The Vail Christian boys basketball team ran Gilpin County out of the gym, 76-18.
That'll happen when you start the game with a 17-0 run. The Saints (5-2) led 24-7 after the first eight minutes and were clinging to a 46-9 lead by the time the Saints dance team did their routine at the half.
"We were very crisp," Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns said. "We came out and focused on execution. We pressured on defense. We moved the ball well on offense. In games like this, you can loose your way, and stop pushing yourself, stop trying to get better. We were very business-like."
The Saints did just about anything they wanted early. Gunnar Wilson scored the first six points. Kevin Boselli, Nigel Johnsen and Zach Linder all found the twine and Austin Ellsworth dropped a 3-ball on the way to a big lead.
Robby Bowles, not to be outdone, had a trey, and then the Saints started passing. Vail Christian had a series of transition scores, produced by some slick dimes. Johnsen, Ellsworth twice, and Boselli had lovely assists as Vail Christian started the second quarter with a 14-0 run.
Kuhns substituted liberally, and sophomore Luke Berger made the coach look smart with three 3s. (No word on whether Berger will supplant Bowles as the team's shooting guard.)
Parker Poage, Cooper Gould, Ethan Pence and Alex Davis all found the scorebook. Wilson led the Saints with 16, while Ellsworth and Bowles each had 13.
Vail Christian is at DeBeque today for a 2A Slope game.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.