Ouray downs Saints in league opener
EDWARDS, Colorado ” That was not the league opener for which the Vail Christian boys basketball team was hoping.
Ouray, the two-time defending 1A Mountain League Champions, started its quest for a three-peat with a 67-54 win Friday night at St. Clare in Edwards, snapping Vail Christian’s six-game winning streak.
The Saints had entered Friday’s game, hoping to establish themselves as the league’s new heavyweight, but as head coach Sheldon Kuhns said somewhat jokingly after the game, “That didn’t go as planned.”
Very little did for Vail Christian. Big man Jaryd Francis picked up two fouls early and sat out most of the second quarter after his third whistle. Meanwhile, the Saints, who had shown tremendous balance throughout their winning streak, could not right the ship without Francis until things were well out of hand.
“We had an off night,” said Kuhns whose team dropped to 6-2 overall and 0-1 in the Mountain League. “We couldn’t finish a shot in the first half. Everything just compounded. Jaryd got in foul trouble. We started getting frustrated. They out-ran us, which should not have happened. We didn’t go to the glass and they killed us on the offensive boards. As a coach, you wish you could see that in the locker room before the game.”
The visiting Trojans started the game with a 13-4 run before A.J. Burgess popped one from behind the arc and Chase Gruber drove to the bucket to close it to 16-10. Francis had two baskets, including a slam, in the second quarter to draw the Saints again within six at 20-14. Ouray responded by ending the half with a 14-2 run.
The visitors kept pouring it on, leading by as much as 25 points early in the fourth quarter before the Saints rallied to make the final score look respectable. Francis led the Saints with 25 points, followed by Gruber with 15 and Burgess and Larry Cavanaugh with eight each.
While the loss was disheartening and affirms Ouray’s position at the top of the league, there’s still plenty of season left for the Saints, including a rematch at Ouray Feb. 22. Before that though, Vail Christian wants to regroup today at 2:30 p.m. at St. Clare in a nonconference tilt against Gilpin County.
“It’s over now. We learned from this,” Kuhns said. “We realize that we can’t come in and let someone dominate on both ends of the floor, like they did tonight. It is early in the season. We can bounce back and beat this team the next time we play them. We just have to get focused.”
Disher shines in loss
With a name like Michelle Disher, you’d think the Vail Christian junior would be a point guard.
Yet she’s a forward, and that’s probably a good thing. Disher pulled down a school-record 23 rebounds Friday night in a 50-34 loss to Ouray.
“That’s crazy. I didn’t believe it,” Disher said. “I thought I was doing all right. At the end, I was pretty shocked.”
“Michelle is our warrior in the middle,” Saints coach Patrick Beaudine said. “She’s basically the anchor on the defense and the offense, and she just keeps fighting. Even when you think she has nothing left, she finds some more energy she can draw on.”
That summed up Vail Christian’s effort nicely. In their first game without likely their top player Bianca Jensen, whose family moved to Florida earlier this week, the Saints still gave Ouray a good run.
The Trojans decided things with a 17-3 third quarter, but Vail Christian has reason to believe it will be in the mix in the Mountain League. In addition to those 23 rebounds, Disher led the Saints with 13 points. Senior Hannah Morris had a strong game with 12 points. Maty Peckham had seven.
Vail Christian is back at it again today at 1 p.m. against Gilpin County.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or email@example.com.