Saints beat VMS for Vail championship; Meeker wins division
Vail Christian pulls the surprise
EDWARDS — Upset city, baby.
Come on, do your best Dick Vitale because Vail Christian boys basketball pulled the stunner.
Without two starters due to COVID-19 quarantine — they were surely done without them, right? — the Saints still found a way to beat Vail Mountain, 53-43, Thursday night — and it was a darker night than most in the second quarter as the lights went out twice in Edwards’ Wheeler Athletic Center.
Meeker sends its thanks as the Vail Christian win allowed the Cowboys to clinch the North. Meeker beat Rangely, 44-43, Thursday night, clinched the division and will play at the South Division champion on Saturday.
In theory — these matchups are not set in stone — it’s Meeker at DeBeque for the title, Vail Christian at Caprock Academy and Vail Mountain at Cedaredge Saturday.
If you’re wondering, the South teams host all boys crossovers, while the North is home for the girls interdivisional play due to a coin flip.
The power of 3
Dipping deep into their roster, the Saints finally found the 3-ball. Averaging 5 per game this year, the Saints had 5 in the first half alone, and that was the jumpstart they needed.
They didn’t have to shoot the lights out, just drain a few to have the legitimate perimeter threat.
VMS was controlling the game early, leading 6-2, when the Saints’ Quinn Downey popped a 3 followed by two treys from Leo Rothenberg. That helped turn a 6-2 VMS lead into a 13-10 Vail Christian advantage after one.
In the second, more 3s helped pad the Saints’ lead, and Vail Christian was quite grateful. But this is when Connor Downey started dancing around the paint.
Downey couldn’t match the size of the Gore Rangers down low — MacKay and Cole Pattison and Devin Yarde are formidable — but he found the angles for the rebounds and baskets down low.
Downey finished with game-high 21 points. Rothenberg totaled 16 and Quinn Downey had 11.
Who is Peter Mills?
We just ask because the Vail Christian junior hit a 3 at the half to give his team a 32-19 lead after two quarters.
Well done, Peter. It was a big lift at the break and totally awesome moment
At the half, the Meeker-Rangely score came in to both benches. This led to hand-wringing and foreboding for Vail Christian. Had the Saints held a double-digit lead at the half against Meeker last weekend, they would be in Saturday’s title game.
Would they blow a double-digit lead against the Gore Rangers? No. Not happening again.
Not only did Vail Christian quell the sporadic expected uprisings from Vail Mountain, but did a nice job of slowing down the pace on possessions to work the clock.