Lady Saints slay the Dragons
DEBEQUE, Colorado ” Vail Christian girls basketball’s Maty Peckham wasn’t so confident about her shot.
Down 44-42 at DeBeque Saturday with seconds remaining, Peckham was in the corner and put up the 3.
“I thought it was way off,” Peckham said. “I was praying it would go in.”
It did, and the Saints knocked off the Dragons, 45-44, for a momentous win, the first time the girls’ program has beaten DeBeque.
“It was like slow motion,” Peckham said. “It took a few seconds to realize what had happened. Everyone was screaming, realizing that we finally beat DeBeque. It’s an awesome feeling.”
“It rimmed around and went through,” Saints coach Patrick Beaudine said. “Once it dropped in, the DeBeque players tried to inbound the ball, but time ran out. Our girls stormed the court.
“I would just say that I remember losing here 82-16 five years ago. Walking off the court, knowing that we beat DeBeque is a sign our program’s on the rise.”
While many will remember Peckham’s shot, it was just part of the win. Vail Christian’s defense put on a show. Leading 12-8 after the first quarter, the Saints blanked the Dragons, 10-0, in the second.
“It was our senior guards, Hannah (Morris) and Nayeli (Hernandez),” Beaudine said. “They took turns on their scorer (Tia Lynch). They shut her down and did a great job on defense, and the whole team fed on that.”
“We had girls helping out inside,” Morris said. “We had girls up top, getting hands up, stopping their shooters. We had good movement all around.”
DeBeque stormed back. Playing on the road isn’t easy, as was evidenced by Lynch going to the free-throw line 23 times, making 16 shots, while the Saints didn’t visit the charity stripe in the second half.
Beaudine quietly noted that he was pleased with how his team coped with “some obstacles.”
Peckham had a career high 19 points, while Michelle Disher had 10. Morris had four points and seven assists at point guard. Alexis Ellsworth had six and Sammantha Francis chipped in four.
Down 44-42 in the fourth, Morris got the ball to half court and called a timeout. In the huddle, Beaudine diagrammed a play for Hernandez to inbound the ball to Morris. Peckham went to one corner and Ellsworth to the other, and the rest will be rehashed over and over at reunions in the future.
“It was really exciting to see the team play well,” Morris said. “We played with confidence. It feels great to have a victory. I know God was in that game. It was very humbling to beat a very respected team like DeBeque.”
Saints get league win
The boys won, too.
It wasn’t pretty, but as Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns put it aptly, “Wins don’t come easily in February.”
Vail Christian lost the services Chase Gruber, Larry Cavanaugh and Jaryd Francis at various points to injuries, but still came away from DeBeque with a 55-44 win.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game,” Kuhns said. “We had to fight through some injuries, but we did what we needed to do to win the game. It was the first time this year that we really had to grind it out, and it was nice to see the guys do that.”
Gruber rolled his ankle in the first 30 seconds of the game, and was done. Larry Cavanaugh took an accidental elbow from teammate Will Parker, but returned. Jaryd Francis had to have one of his shoulders popped back in, but he also played.
Just another day at DeBeque.
While Francis ” again deftly avoiding foul trouble ” led the Saints with 22 points, the Saints had balance. Chris Schmidt was a real star off the bench with 10 points. A.J. Burgess also had 10, while Cavanaugh popped in eight.
And so after a three-game skid, the Saints have won two in row to move to 9-4 overall and 1-2 in the Mountain league.
Both Vail Christian teams return home next weekend. The Saints have North Park Friday at 6 and 7:30 p.m., followed by Ridgway Saturday 1 and 2:30 p.m. All games are at St. Clare in Edwards.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.