Meeker rallies past Vail Christian in 2nd half
Saints suffer first league loss
EDWARDS —Vail Christian boys basketball played three superb halves of basketball this weekend. Unfortunately, the Saints needed four halves.
The Saints led, 18-8, after the first period and, 34-21, at the half, but lost to Meeker, 51-48, Saturday night suffering their first league and throwing the Northern Division of the 2A Slope into chaos.
Vail Mountain, Vail Christian and Meeker all have one loss atop the standings. The Gore Rangers, who took care of business on Saturday at Walden beating North Park, 62-30, and the Cowboys are 5-1 with Vail Christian at 4-1.
The Saints knocked West Grand (4-3) out of the race on Friday by beating the Mustangs in Kremmling. Vail Christian was hoping that Friday’s West Grand win would carry into Saturday. It did, but not for the full 32 minutes.
And, yes, it was a strange night for both the Cowboys and Saints. The refs did get involved, but not with controversial calls on the floor. In the third quarter, some fans got tossed (not unusual) as well as the athletic trainer, who was sitting on Vail Christian’s bench at the time. (In 24 years of covering Vail Valley preps, the author has never seen that.)
“All the air went out of the building for whatever reason and we lost the momentum,” said Vail Christian coach Sheldon Kuhns, who was slightly purple after the game. “We’re the younger team. They’re the senior-laden group. Tempo got us the lead and then all the air went out.”
However one thinks of the officiating, the Saints committed costly turnovers, were in foul trouble and eventually came apart. High school basketball teams don’t win games by scoring only 14 points in the second half.
After Meeker outscored Vail Christian, 18-6, during the third quarter, the Saints’ Vinny Nowicki fouled out to start the fourth quarter. First off, no one feels worse than Nowicki, so this is not piling on the junior. Kuhns just said after the game that Nowicki brings the Saints a spark and that they missed him during that fourth quarter.
Despite crazy-making nature of the loss, Vail Christian fans are not advised to use the north doors of the gymnasium to jump into the Eagle River. The Saints are still alive to win the Northern Division. They play Soroco on Monday for non-Senior Night — to use an appropriate Yiddish phrase which applies to a Christian school, the Saints have bupkis when it comes to seniors.
If the Saints beat Soroco, they still have a shot against VMS on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Vail Christian’s girls took care of Summit, 36-26, Saturday afternoon.
If you’re wondering why the 2A Saints were playing the 4A Tigers, well, Meeker’s girls are in COVID-19 quarantine and Vail Christian still wanted a game. Coach Tim Pierson let his fingers do the walking and found out Summit was free. Cool.
Grace McCurdy won her blackjack hand for third time in four games, putting up 20 points. (Always stick on 20, Grace.) Zoey Barela had 15.
Vail Christian (5-3 overall and 2-2 in the Slope) finishes the season Monday against Soroco.