Prep basketball weekend roundup |

Prep basketball weekend roundup

Eagle Valley and Vail Christian competed in a weekend slate of early season games

Eagle Valley boys go 2-1 at Steamboat Springs Tournament; girls fall to 0-3

After defeating Roosevelt 73-51 on Thursday in the opening game of a round-robin tournament in Steamboat Springs, the Eagle Valley boys basketball team split the remaining two games, losing to Colorado Academy 76-63 on Friday before defeating Conifer 73-45 on Saturday.

The Devils came out hot against Colorado Academy, jumping to a 10-0 first-quarter lead. The Mustangs then switched to a half-court zone defense, utilizing their length and height to stymie smaller opponents.

“When they switched to zone, with their length, it gave us a lot of trouble,” head coach Justin Brandt said.

With all five starters taller than 6 feet, the Devils struggled to find open passing lanes.

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“It took us a quarter to figure it out,” Brandt described.

By the time they did, the Mustangs had closed the gap, and they never looked back. It was 32-25 at the half in favor of Colorado Academy. By the end of the third quarter, the lead had increased to 15 points. When it was all said and done, the Devils had committed 20 turnovers and allowed 13 offensive rebounds in the game, two statistics that stood as a testament to their struggles managing the zone defense and height differential.

”You just can’t win when you give the other team 13 extra possessions,” Brandt lamented.

“They were definitely the best team we’ve played all year.”

Nikko Von Stralendorff had no qualms about the zone defense, draining seven 3-pointers to lead the team with 21 points in the loss.

“He might be the best 3-point shooter in the state,” his coach praised. “And, the fact that he’s 6 feet, 5 inches makes him a match-up nightmare.”

His impact is felt on the defensive side of the floor, too, as his versatility allows him to match up against any position.

“Not many people can defend the point guard and the center in the same game,” Brandt claimed.

The junior forward has spent more time than normal in the post as starting center Eric Hasley continues to recover from an injury.

In the second matchup, Von Stralendorff continued his exploits, draining four 3-pointers en route to scoring 18 points.

“He’s really good at finding open space. He doesn’t stand still,” his coach said, noting that the team-first mentality of his crew is vital the forward’s outside game.

“And our team is really good about creating for him. Really good at passing up good shots for great shots.”

In the matchup against Conifer, Branden Villalobos and Branden Vigil were able to penetrate and dish when defenses collapsed.

“That’s a huge part of our game,” Brandt said about the unselfish guards drawing crowds and kicking it out for open 3-pointers. Matthew Garvey is the other sharpshooter, and he had two second-quarter 3-pointers to go along with 10 points of his own. Erich Petersen chipped in 12 points as well.

After storming to a 34-22 halftime lead, the game was never in doubt, and Eagle Valley was able to get everyone on the floor — an important aspect for Brandt.

“It was a good team win,” he said.

The Eagle Valley girls fell to Roosevelt 85-15 on Thursday night before being defeated by Colorado Academy 60-30 on Friday. The Devils are still in search of their first win; they open league play against Battle Mountain on Jan. 11. Colorado Academy improved to 4-1.

The Devil men and women travel to Basalt for a three-day tournament Thursday. The men will face Aspen, which is coming off of a 75-33 victory over Vail Mountain on Dec. 7.

Vail Christian boys split Front Range contests

The Vail Christian boys basketball team had a double-header this weekend, facing off against Gilpin County on Friday night and Heritage Christian on Saturday afternoon.

On Friday, everything was running on all cylinders for the Saints as they cruised to an easy 76-27 victory.

“It was a good team win — really balanced scoring,” said head coach Sheldon Kuhns.

Having braved the blizzard to get down to the Front Range, Kuhns’s crew was fortunate to have scheduled another game in Fort Collins against Heritage Christian. On paper, it was another coin-flip matchup, and this time, it went the way of the Eagles.

The Saints trailed 26-21 at halftime in what would be a back-and-forth game. “We just couldn’t get over the hump,” Kuhns said. With 30 seconds to go, Leo Rothenburg hit a 3-pointer to cut it to 48-46. Heritage Christian was poised at the line, however, and closed out the game, 51-46.

It was another balanced scoring story for the Saints, with both Jesse Gonzales and Jeffrey Hall pacing Vail Christian with 7 points apiece. “We played pretty well today; we just didn’t have our best shooting performance,” Kuhns said about Saturday.

The team has battled health to start the year; they haven’t been at full strength since opening night. Combined with many starters coming off of a long football season, the Saint’s rhythm is still improving. The coach isn’t making any excuses about a lack of continuity, though.

“That’s not any reason for our play,” he said, noting the team is just working out normal early season kinks.

“These early season tough games, when you have adversity, these are good lessons learned,” he said. “So, I feel really good about where our team is, heading into league play.”

They open up the league calendar against perennial power Meeker on Thursday at Vail Christian. Meeker handed the Saints their only league loss last season. Kuhns said he is excited for the matchup.

“They’re very well coached, very well disciplined. That’ll be a good test for us.”

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