J-Squad lifts Vail Christian hoops
EAGLE-VAIL – When it comes to Vail Christian boys basketball, it’s J thing.Thursday night, the 1A Saints started two Joshes, a Jamie, a Jonathan and a Jaryd against 4A Battle Mountain’s junior varsity team.And, Sibley, Glandorf, Graef, Armstead and Francis, respectively, and the rest of the Saints took out the Huskies, 57-41.”They’ve been hounding me all year to start five J’s and it just hasn’t happened,” said Saints coach Sheldon JKuhns. (Editor’s note: The J in JKuhns is silent.) “Tonight, we did. I told them we may have to make it a habit.”Which, of course, means that Caleb Pearson’s name is changing in January when he returns from injury.”They’re going to change Caleb’s name to Jaleb,” said Saints assistant coach and Caleb’s, er, Jaleb’s father, Rick Pearson.The J-Squad started out slowly in the first half, but there were some highlights. At the end of the first quarter, it was football season all over again with Armstead connecting with Graef for an easy two and a 12-8 lead.The Saints fell behind, 19-14, with 5:02 left in the half. JKuhns called a wise timeout and Vail Christian went on 11-3 run to finish the half.
That run finished with a flourish. With four seconds to go Battle Mountain’s Clay Wilson dropped in a 3. Armstead, from Glandorf, responded with a Hail Mary from near center court as the buzzer sounded for a 28-22 lead.”That was a huge boost,” JKuhns said. “We talked in the locker room about coming out with a lot of energy and we didn’t. We were so sluggish in the first half and that 3 gave us energy. We went out and we did what we needed to do. We had the energy in the second half.”Believe it or not, the shot was the result of some idle time in practice.”In practice, when we have chances to goof around, I always shoot from that exact spot,” Armstead said. “One out of two times, it goes in. I’ve tried to take that shot for two-and-a-half years, and that’s the first time it’s ever gone in in a game situation”In it went and the Saints were off and running in the second half. Francis made himself a presence inside with a three-point play and another bucket on his way 11 points. Armstead put in his next three buckets and had a team-high 15.In the fourth quarter, Graef fed Francis for a nice bucket and the Saints were cruising, 51-35. Graef totaled 13 points, while Sibley, playing with a bum shoulder, had 11.”That’s really our core right there,” JKuhns said. “They should average 10-15 a game. Throw in Caleb and there’s another 10 points. It’s going to be good.”Battle Mountain’s Andrew Martinez had a game-high 17, while Wilson had 13.
Lady Saints winThe Vail Christian girls basketball team doesn’t have the J-Squad, but no matter.The Saints outscored the Huskies, 20-1, in the second quarter to rout the Huskies, 53-32, for their first win of the season.”The girls were excited,” Saints coach Paul Doughty said. “I’m encouraging them nonstop. We’ve played two top-10 teams in the state so far. We’ve played three 2A schools. It is pretty difficult to put in a new system when you’re playing tougher teams. It was nice to see them do some things correctly.”The key to the second-quarter run was putting on the press.”We run our 1-2-1-1 press very well,” Doughty said. “The girls were reacting and getting the easy steals and the easy baskets.”Rachel Glandorf had 21 for Vail Christian, leading a balanced attack. Megan Doughty had 10, all in the first half. Lauren Mutter chalked up nine, while both Danielle Cavanaugh and Kira Burner had six.
Megan Houghton had 14 for Battle Mountain.Extra shotsThe Vail Christian girls team moved to 1-4 with the win. Under the category of crime doesn’t pay, Ouray used an ineligible player in its win over the Vail Christian boys team, so JKuhns’ squad is 3-2 heading into the break. … Both teams return to action Jan. 7 with home games against Aspen’s JV. League play opens Jan. 8 with Ridgway, also at St. Clare. … Best shoes honors go to Vail Christian’s Oliver Ristow. … Line of the night goes to Andy Dalton. When asked if he was a guard, the 5-foot-4 freshman said, “No, I’m a center.” Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado