OLATHE — And that is why Vail Christian’s girls basketball’s Rule of 40 is such a big deal.
The Saints finished their season with a 40-20 loss to No. 3-ranked Norwood during the first round of the District 1 Tournament in Olathe. Vail Christian was not run out of the building by the Mavericks, who were 18-1 during the regular season, and only a one-point loss on the road to Dove Creek from being perfect.
The Mavericks averaged 51.6 points per game and eclipsed the 50-point mark 11 times during a 19-game regular season.
The Saints (7-13) just couldn’t score.
“We created a lot of good opportunities from the free-throw line and everywhere else but could not put the ball in the basket early,” Saints coach Doug Bruce said. “I think our girls played amazingly hard and did a lot of good things defensively. We just couldn’t put the ball in the basket to get our reward.”
The Mavericks blanked the Vail Christian offense, 9-0, during the first quarter. The Saints kept in range by playing in a packed-in 2-3 zone to limit Norwood’s Lucia Vlkova in the paint. Unfortunately, the Mavs’ Shania Snow hit a 3 with 2:47 to go in the first half, and Norwood’s Jordan Williams got going with an outside jumper.
Williams finished with a game-high 14 points, including a bucket which put the Mavericks up 13-0 in the second quarter before Taylor Alexander finally got the Saints on the board. A 13-point lead shouldn’t be insurmountable, but it did force the Saints to hurry up on offense, as opposed to the pregame plan of being deliberate.
Despite a sputtering offense, Vail Christian was only down 21-9 at the half to the No. 3 team in the state, and got even closer when Remy Beveridge canned a 3 to start the second half.
Last year, if the Saints had 40 points per game, their record would have been 12-7-1, instead of 7-13. This year, the hypothetical record is not as obvious — 8-10-1, but Vail Christian did lose 41-29 to Gilpin County and 42-38 to Hotchkiss, both good teams.
Somehow, the Saints need to find a way to get the ball in the basket during the summer.
“We have so many girls doing spring sports, so it’s probably a good time for them to be away from basketball, be it with soccer or track,” Bruce said. “This group of girls is good about working over the summer. Basically, we have to shoot a ton over the summer.”
With the loss, Vail Christian bids farewell to seniors Bella McCormick, Amie Hixson and Kristen Currey, but Senior Night next year is going to be a pretty quick affair. The rest of Vail Christian’s returning varsity squad are all currently freshmen and sophomores. So while the offensive outage is frustrating, even worthy of head-banging, there could be light at the end of the tunnel.
Meanwhile, the Vail Christian boys basketball team starts district play today against Ouray at 7:30 p.m.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 and email@example.com.