Vail Christian starts the playoffs at home | VailDaily.com

Vail Christian starts the playoffs at home

Tipoff for Dolores Huerta Prep is at 5:30 p.m.

Alec Moritz and Vail Christian take on Dolores Huerta Prep tonight at 5:30 at the Wheeler Athletic Center in Edwards during the first round of the Class 2A Region 8 Tournament.
Mort Mulliken | Daily file photo

It could be a whiteout in more ways than one when the Vail Christian boys basketball hosts the Class 2A Region 8 Tournament in Edwards this weekend.

The Saints are hosting Dolores Huerta Prep tonight at 5:30 at the Wheeler Athletics Center with Fowler taking on Clear Creek at 7:15 p.m., and the winners facing each other on Saturday at 1 p.m. with a trip to the Elite Eight on the line.

Since it’s the first time Vail Christian has hosted a regional in school history, Saints fans are asked to wear white and there might be more of a whiteout than intended, given the weather forecast for the weekend.

Of course, everyone at Vail Christian wishes for a safe trip up to Edwards for all three visiting squads, but sitting in a little traffic wouldn’t be the worst scenario from the Saints’ perspective.

Last year, Vail Christian headed to the Eastern Plains and Byers (153 miles). In other postseason journeys, the Saints have been to Gunnison (156 miles), Olathe (177 miles) and Delta (167 miles). That’s a way of saying, “There’s no place like home.”

“The shoe’s been on the other foot,” Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns said. “It’s a nice benefit.”

Meet the Scorpions

Dolores Huerta enters tonight’s game with a 15-7 record having gone 6-1 in the Black Forest League, a circuit centered around Colorado Springs and Pueblo.

The Panthers, from Pueblo, and the Saints have nothing resembling a common opponent as Saints primarily played its nonconference schedule against larger Western Slope schools.

Charles Winston (No. 5) leads Dolores Huerta with 14 points per game, followed by fellow junior Xavier Gomez (No. 4) with an average of 13.7. Senior Angel Salinas (No. 15) averages 11.7 points per game and is Dolores Huerta’s leading rebounder.

While Kuhns has seen some film of the Scorpions, the bigger emphasis is within the Vail Christian camp, rather than the opponent.

“The biggest thing for me is routine,” Kuhns said. “Obviously, it’s a playoff game with larger ramifications, but we’ve made practice look similar. We’re just going to do our regular home game routine.”

To look or not look?

Fowler and Clear Creek play in the nightcap of the playoff doubleheader. While it is forbidden to look past any opponent in the playoffs, Saints fans may remember Clear Creek from last year’s first-round playoff win.

Fowler is the favorite against Golddiggers. The Grizzlies won the Santa Fe League with a 12-1 record but lost to Holly in the District 6 Tournament finals. As a result, Fowler, the No. 4 team in the 2A rating-percentage index with an 18-4 record, is a very good team on the road, and would probably be the pick were it to face the Saints. If you’re wondering, the Saints (16-6) are No. 19 in the RPI, but hosting because they won the District 5 Tournament.

“We intentionally didn’t watch (Fowler) as a team because we are focusing on Dolores,” Kuhns said. “If we are fortunate enough to win, we’ll focus on (Fowler) on Saturday morning. We’re getting ready to play Dolores Huerta.”