Friday preps wrap: Saints grab victories; hockey wins OT thriller
Thank you, Carter Large
Vail Christian boys basketball went into West Grand and came away with a 47-40 victory, and coach Sheldon Kuhns called it “a great team win.”
“I know I say that all the time,” Kuhns said after uttering one his favorite phrases.
The coach, however, might be onto something here. Beating West Grand on the road in the midst of a 2A Slope title chase is a “great team win.” This is the sort of win we may look back on next season and say, “This group of Saints started rolling by beating West Grand.” We don’t know now, but just file this away for revisiting at a later date.
Truth be told, going into West Grand and winning is always an accomplishment for Vail Christian teams. Kremmling, along with Oak Creek (Soroco) and Meeker, are the sites of much horror in the past. Kuhns just curled up in the fetal position at the mention of the Saints’ history in Kremmling.
Reason No. 2 Saints fans think this could be “a great team win,” is that the Mustangs are physical. That is never a good match up for Vail Christian (4-0 in the 2A Slope and 5-3 overall).
The Saints shoot 3s and score in transition. A half-court game where it’s a slugfest in the paint is not Vail Christian’s style. They still won and can sock away the experience if they make the playoffs, where they will definitely see more of this playing style.
The third argument for this being that “great team win” is that Vail Christian trailed, 15-4, midway through the first quarter. The Saints don’t have a huge bank of experience upon which to draw, yet they took a serious punch and rallied on the road.
Then we have the “Holy balanced scoring, Batman,” factor to Friday’s game. Jeffrey Hall led the Saints with 10. Connor Downey and Sean Boselli each had nine. Vinny Nowicki totaled eight and Leo Rothenberg had five.
It’s not traditional explosive Vail Christian basketball, but good luck trying to sit on one player and shut down the rest of the Saints’ offense.
“I think for these guys to be down early — and I told them this after the game,” Kuhns said. “West Grand has five seniors. We have none.. For us to take that early blow and get the win in a very physical game was huge for this team. I love where we’re at with our growth.”
Kuhns isn’t the only one who loves his team. Vail Christian girls basketball coach Tim Pierson is also quite fond of his squad. The Saints beat West Grand, 39-22, Friday afternoon.
And now for a breaking news alert … Grace McCurdy did not lead the team with 21 points as she had done the last two games.
Zoey Barela did the honors with 15 points, while McCurdy had to “settle” for 14.
“I think the girls have gone out with great effort and competed,” Pierson said. “Grace and Zoey are seasoned vets and they’re helping us bring along kids who were on JV last year. We’re getting into a rhythm and we’re doing some good things.”
In theory, Vail Christian’s girls were to face Meeker on Saturday, but the Cowgirls are under COVID-19 quarantine. So the Saints will play Summit at 1:45 p.m. at home.
Meanwhile, the boys will host Meeker as scheduled at 5:30 p.m.
Hockey wins OT thriller
This is why an Aspen game is always dangerous.
The Skiers — no matter how poor of a season they are having, and they were 2-5 entering Friday’s matchup with the Huskies — will give Battle Mountain hockey fits. This ski-town rivalry is no joke.
Carter Large scored with 1.6 seconds left in overtime, lifting the Huskies to a 3-2 win and a glorious postgame celebration.
“We expected them to make some adjustments,” Huskies coach Derek Byron said. “It was our Senior Night and they were trying to wreck it.”
’Twas not wrecked so happy Senior Night to Ben Woody, Declan Miner, Dillon Flaagan, Freddy Aalto, Hunter Davis, Jack Eastabrooks, Jensen Rawlings, Nolan Baker, Sonny Nordstrand, Steve Dent, Alden Kostick, Berkeley Kelly, Ari Dennis and Sofia Campanale.
Because the Huskies apparently have a flair for the dramatic after beating Aspen, 7-1, last week, Battle Mountain squandered a 2-0 lead (Davis and Large’s first goal) during the last 11 minutes of regulation.
Seemingly headed to a draw with just seconds left in overtime, Aalto applied the pressure in the Aspen zone, forcing the turnover. The puck went right out to Large who one-timed the game-winner. A Stanley Cup-style celebration ensued.
Battle Mountain moved to 7-1-1 overall. A reminder: Battle Mountain is 3-0-1 in the Mountain League and Friday’s game against Aspen was technically a nonconference contest.
The Huskies are at Summit Saturday and play Aspen again on Tuesday at the Eagle Pool & Ice Rink. Both are nonconference affairs, leading up to the de facto Mountain Conference championship game at Crested Butte in Gunnison on Friday.