See if Vail Christian had beaten Hi-Plains on Thursday during the first round of the state tournament, today’s game would have been at 5:30 p.m., and I could have gotten in a round of golf down here.
No golf for Freud.
OK, the Saints are probably disappointed, too, not to be in the semifinals as well after a 69-54 loss to Hi-Plains. But let’s all remember that this is state and Vail Christian is here for the second straight year.
The test for the Saints is to avoid going two-and-out. Win today, and the Saints are still playing for fifth place in the state. And, further, does this bunch, especially the seniors, want its last game of the season to be against Norwood?
“We left it all on the court for that game,” Saints senior Branden Currey said after Thursday’s game against the No. 2-ranked Patriots. “I’m proud of the way we played. But still, it’s all right. Coming back tomorrow with our mentality, it’s all about giving everything we have and getting back to Vail Christian basketball and everything will turn out right.”
Other news and notes from Loveland:
• The ankle: Ethan Ellsworth was definitely hurting. First off, the fact that he never returned to last week’s game against Primero in Gunnison after injuring it during the second quarter was a red flag.
Sug is one tough kid. He’s grown up watching Vail Christian basketball, being the third of six Ellsworth children in blue, silver and white. (His Dad, Todd, is also an assistant coach for the Saints.) The ankle had to be bad.
Sug didn’t practice all week. He gave it a go, but he clearly just couldn’t move like he normally can.
“It’s getting there,” the junior said. “It’s certainly not 100 percent. It’s an I’m-hurt-not-dead kind of thing. I’m just trying to play through it. It’s only a flesh wound.”
Ellsworth made light of it, but said he couldn’t attack like he wanted.
Let’s make this very clear — this is not on Sug. It’s not like he wanted to get hurt. Questioning his grit is utter folly. The Saints would have made this game with a healthy Ellsworth, but would they have won? I couldn’t say. Hi-Plains is darn good.
One thing’s for sure: Vail Christian isn’t here without Ellsworth.
• Thursday’s game was a very physical one. We had players from both teams sprawling all over the place. Hacksaws seemed OK in the paint. The refs called it consistently, so no gripes are allowed. It is ironic that the last state game Vail Christian played last year had 59 fouls in 32 minutes of play.
• Big ups to Vail Christian’s fans. I ran into Saints fans at the Starbucks in Downieville, and there were more in Loveland. For the uninitiated, Vail Christian in state means a school holiday and the students took advantage of it.
• Goofball quote of the day: With the caveat that a requirement to be on the Vail Christian basketball team is to be a bit of a ham for the reporter — and I love these guys for it — Parker Poage wins with the quote, “I think the definition of mature in the dictionary is the Vail Christian basketball team.”
I was interviewing Currey, Ellsworth and Poage all together at the time, and Currey reeled backwards, trying to contain his laughter.
• Fun quote from Poage: “I was asking the guys whom they would rather face today — Cheyenne Wells or Norwood.
“We’ll take them both,” Poage said. “10-on-5.”