Vail Christian basketball rolls past Hotchkiss
When in doubt, don't look at the RPI
EDWARDS — Vail Christian boys basketball keeps winning and continues to drop.
The Saints plastered Hotchkiss, 81-35, all over the Wheeler Athletic Center on Friday night, but at best they’ll be happy to hold their own in the rating-percentage index.
At 9-1 overall and 4-0 in the 2A Slope, the Saints entered Friday night’s game ranked No. 11 in the RPI, but since strength of schedule makes up 50 percent of that formula, they don’t get their due by the computer.
The reasons are two-fold. The RPI, except for football, does not give added points for playing higher-classification schools and does not penalize teams for competing against smaller schools. Since the closest 2A nonconference teams to Vail Christian are in Denver, the Saints play larger Western Slope schools every year.
This year, the Saints have been splendid beating 4A Eagle Valley, 3A Aspen and Basalt. But RPI sees those schools as 2A teams that are 4-7, 7-3 and 1-9, as opposed to wins against bigger schools with more students from which to draw their basketball teams.
Now throw in that the 12 other teams of 2A Slope do the same thing — by and large, play the bigger schools nearby in nonconference play. That depresses everyone’s winning percentages, thus lowering Vail Christian’s strength-of-schedule factor. Only three of 13 teams in the league were above .500 entering Friday’s games — the Saints, DeBeque and Paonia.
Even though the Saints win, the strength of schedule decreases and so does the RPI.
“The only thing we can control is our record, our winning percentage,” Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns said. “If we keep our winning percentage high, it will balance out. We hope teams like Meeker get hot. It is what it is and we’ve got to keep winning.”
And there was absolutely nothing more that Vail Christian could do against Hotchkiss. The Saints led 29-4 at the end of the first quarter and were clinging to a 49-8 lead at the half.
Funny thing was that Kuhns initially thought his team was a little slow Friday.
“We always talk in the locker room about how we need to get a good jump,” Kuhns said. “I said to (assistant coach) J.C. (Moritz) 30 seconds in when we down 2-0, ‘We look a little flat-footed.'”
Upon further review, Kuhns retracts his flat-footed observation.
Hayden Sticksel was en fuego with 19 points. Alec Moritz was hitting from everywhere on his way to 20. Jamison Lee had 13 and the seniors spent most of the second half on the bench watching the game. They were cheering on the likes of Sean Boselli, Miles Imhof, Ryan Downey, Peter Mills and Leo Rothenberg getting on the scoresheet.
Were they hot Friday night? Yep. But, most importantly, they were a good team that was very ready to play regardless of the opponent and its record. (Hotchkiss left Edwards with a 4-7 mark.)
Bulldogs beat Saints girls
In the opener, Vail Christian girls basketball put one heck of a scare into league-leading Hotchkiss before falling to the Bulldogs, 40-32.
Hotchkiss (10-1, 5-0) entered the game ranked No. 11 in Class 2A. The Bulldogs’ only loss of the season has been to 3A Delta. Hotchkiss led only, 36-31, with 1:41 left in the game.
The Saints went to a man-to-man defense to try to force a turnover or two but were unable. Making it all the more impressive was that the Saints (4-7, 1-3) lost Zoey Barela to an ankle injury during the first half.
Grace McCurdy topped Vail Christian with 13 points, including 4-for-4 shooting from the free-throw line. Freshman Daisy Palacio was also a factor off the bench with six points.
“We’re just trying to play good fundamental basketball,” Saints coach Tim Pierson said. “On defense, that’s not reaching, getting back quickly and rebounding. On offense, when they’re in man, we’re trying to drive and attack. When they’re in zone, we try to move the ball around. I’m proud of the girls and proud of their effort. We’re just trying to work and get better.”
Vail Christian’s girls head down to Liberty Common today. Both teams return to league play on Friday when they host West Grand.