Vail Christian wins first 2A district basketball title
Jamo goes off for 23 points
DEBEQUE — Vail Christian boys basketball clicked its collective heels and said, “There’s no place like home.”
The Saints won their first 2A district title on Saturday by toppling Plateau Valley, 70-57, in the Class 2A District 5 Tournament final. Vail Christian boys basketball will host the first two rounds of the state playoffs, starting on Friday.
“We talk a lot about history and the kids always love it when they get a first,” Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns said. “We’ve already had a lot of firsts with this team, but this is our first 2A district title and we’re fired up about it.”
The last time the Saints won districts was back in 2013 as a 1A school. That squad went to state, which was the Elite Eight at the time. As always, your mileage may vary.
“Man, it feels awesome. It feels surreal,” junior Jamison Lee said. “I’m just proud of the boys. I’m happy we’re hosting regionals, but we’re not done yet.”
One of the reasons the Saints are extending their season to March — and prolonging assistant coach J.C. Moritz’ playoff beard — is that they have many ways to beat opponents. Friday night, it was Alec Moritz with 25 points. Zack MacKeever can always do damage. E. J. Koller presents a lot of problems.
On Saturday afternoon, McKeever was in foul trouble and the Cowboys were paying attention to Alec Moritz and Koller, so Lee had had 23 points, including an icy cool performance of 8-for-8 from the line during the fourth quarter.
In the meantime, Alec Moritz was still a factor with 19 points, while McKeever and Koller were both in double digits. The unsung hero was Tommy O’Neil on defense, working against the Cowboys’ Stevenson Reynolds. O’Neil held Reynolds to two points during the second quarter, during which Vail Christian outscored Plateau Valley, 22-12, and took the lead for good.
While the Saints have won District 5, Districts 2 and 3 have been delayed by weather and action will not be completed until Monday, meaning that Vail Christian will wait for a bit until it knows who’s coming to Edwards. Kuhns figures his crew will have the lowest rating-percentage index among the eight district champions, so the Saints will be No. 8 when the bracket comes out.
But with the Saints 8-2 — the only losses coming to 4A Battle Mountain and 1A powerhouse DeBeque — at the Wheeler Athletics Center this year, there is no place like home.
Lady Saints also make state
Welcome to the 2A state playoffs, ladies.
Vail Christian girls basketball is off to the dance after defeating Plateau Valley, 46-34, on Saturday morning for fifth place in the District 5 Tournament. With the victory, the Saints earned the district’s fifth and final state spot.
“Words can’t describe it, to be honest,” Saints coach Cynthia Robinson said. “We came out slow as far a shooting goes, but we played in a full-court, man press and flustered them, and we didn’t let up.”
Like the boys, the Saints (12-10) will find out their draw early next week because not all the 2A district tournaments have been completed. The ladies will be on the road.
One of the reasons Vail Christian is still playing is Grace McCurdy. She had herself a monster game with 15 rebounds and 11 points. Sarah Heredia led the Saints with 15 points, but it was a team effort that earned the state bid.
“We are super excited. Many didn’t believe that we could go this far with losing five seniors (to graduation),” Robinson said. “When we lost that first game at districts, I told the girls that we’re taking the long road home. We’ve built some momentum.”