No wake-up call needed for Saints
EDWARDS – What in the world was CHSAA thinking?
Vail Christian is making its fourth appearance at the Denver Coliseum for the 1A state tournament and second in as many years and the Saints are not playing in an 8 a.m. game?
CHSAA must be losing its touch.
“It’s actually fantastic, although my kids are kind of bummed that we don’t get to do ‘the chicken dance,’ on Saturday,” Vail Christian coach Cathy Alexander said. “It’s kind of become a Vail Christian tradition.”
For the uninitiated, before action starts on Saturday morning, all the teams on all five courts, from Class 1A-5A, and their fans do the chicken dance, complete with music going over the Coliseum speakers. We don’t know how it got started, but when in Rome …
Last year, Vail Christian and Fleming before their 8 a.m. game took the chicken dance to a new level and Saints fans also showed their moves.
But alas, the Saints ranked No. 6, going into this year’s event, have no 8 a.m. games either Friday or Saturday. They start the tournament with Simla at approximately 11 a.m. Friday and have Fleming at 5 that afternoon. Vail Christian wraps pools play with Springfield Saturday at 12:30 p.m. (As always with state, we issue the warning that times are approximate. The matches start at 8 a.m., thankfully without Vail Christian, and just roll throughout the day.)
The Saints get a familiar welcome to state with their first two opponents. Last year, the Saints beat Wiley in four games in an 8 a.m. start, but then fell to Simla in three. That set up a must-win match with Fleming on Saturday, which did not end well as the eventual state champs rolled.
This year the Saints enter as the underdog to No. 3 Simla (24-2), but are a year older.
“I’m hoping it’s a different story,” Alexander said.
Fleming is the No. 2 seed in the tournament. Its playoff pedigree is sparkling, including three of the last four state titles. The Panthers are 26-2 with losses to 3A St. Mary’s and 4A D’Evelyn.
That said, the Saints are a pretty nice 23-3, and one of their losses happen to be against Lutheran, which is the consensus favorite to roll Class 2A.
And Fleming will not be as large as they were last year – the Panthers had four six-footers.
“This year, Fleming is not as big,” Alexander said. “Morgan (Wilkening) is still there and then they have some 5-foot-9 and 5-foot-8 girls. They have the state experience and the height, but we’re going in there with a goal in mind, not that we’re just happy we made it there.”
Vail Christian would like a split or better on Friday to make Saturday’s game against Springfield meaningful.
On the other side of the bracket, No. 1 Otis appears to be the big dog at 26-0 and is grouped with Wiley, Pawnee and Norwood.
Class 1A state tournament
Vail Christian vs. Simla, 11 a.m.
Vail Christian vs. Fleming, 5 p.m.
Vail Christian vs. Springfield, 12:30 p.m.
Semifinals, 2 p.m. or 3:30 p.m.
Finals, 7 p.m.