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Saints’ boys favored to win league title

VCBB Francis, Jaryd PU 2-5
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EDWARDS – The Vail Christian boys basketball team is favored to win the 1A Mountain League.We’ll just give you a moment to clean up the morning orange juice or coffee you just snarfed out of you nose while reading that.Yes, those young men in the white, sliver and blue who play at St. Clare are actually favorites in their league.As Saints center Josh Sibley said Wednesday, “We’ve come a long way.”Yes, the same Saints who set a school record with a 9-10 overall record and a 3-5 mark in conference last year. Just roll with it, people.”We haven’t had a winning record in our conference, and all of a sudden, we’re picked to win it. I don’t think that’s a stretch,” Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns said. “It should come down to Ouray and us and DeBeque, as always.”

“If we play our game, we can beat anybody on the floor,” Sibley said. “We’ve just got to be humble and go out and not let them push us around.”Small forward?It’s pretty hard to imagine anyone pushing these Saints around. These kids are big, especially for a 1A school. To put this into perspective, sophomore Jaryd Francis at 6-foot-5 is the team’s so-called small forward.Caleb Pearson, who’s growing like crazy, is the power forward, and has averaged 21 points per game so far this season. At center, big Sibley’s back after a shoulder injury sidelined him last year.”We’re very tall,” Kuhns said. “Jonathon (Armstead) used to be our power forward before we got all this size and now he’s our point guard. We are blessed with a lot of size. We’re a lot like Battle Mountain where we have dominant big men.”

Armstead returnsSpeaking of Armstead, good news came Wednesday. He got the green light to return from a right shoulder injury picked up during football season. He won’t play tonight against Coal Ridge at 6:30 p.m. at St. Clare as a precautionary measure, but he will be singing the anthem.Blake Gruber’s been doing a nice job filling in for Armstead, but he’s more of a two-guard. That’s what Gruber will be when Armstead returns to the point Jan. 7 against Ridgway.”Right now, you can tell that we are missing an important link. Jonathon just bring a lot of stability and leadership. It will help,” Kuhns said. “Perimeter play can be hit or miss. When our guards handle the pressure – we get a lot of full-court press – we don’t lose. When we turn over the ball, that’s when we have problems.”Extra shots



The Saints are 2-2 with close loses to Lutheran of the Rockies and Soroco and wins against Rocky Mountain Lutheran and Eagle Valley’s JV. Tonight’s game against Coal Ridge is the last before the Christmas break. The Saints restart with Ridgway at the friendly confines Jan. 7. … The Saints have never beaten DeBeque. In a related development, they host the Dragons Jan. 21 and are in DeBeque Feb. 3 … the rest of your 2005-06 Saints are Oliver Ristow, Tim Ragan, Will Parker, A.J. Burgess, Juan Gonzales and Chase GruberGirls show promiseThe Vail Christian girls basketball team makes it home debut tonight at 5 at St. Claire and the blue and white faithful should get ready for a squad with a lot of hustle and heart.”There’s great team chemistry,” second-year coach Paul Doughty said. “We’ve had some girls really work hard in the offseason to get better. They’re a masterpiece in progress. We’re short, but we have some good shooters, great effort and great attitude. We’re just trying to find that right offensive mix and that right defensive mix.”As the Saints have tried to find that mix, the team is off to an understandable 1-4 start with its win over Eagle Valley’s JV.

The main issue for Vail Christian will be size. The Saints aren’t the tallest in the 1A Mountain League. Power forward Danielle Cavanaugh has an answer for that.”Extra hustle, boxing out hard and pushing the ball,” she said.Megan Doughty is at the point and shares the back court with Hannah Morris. Kira Burner and Cecilia Martin will share the small forward spot. Cavanaugh and Jill Shainholtz are the post players. Expect Katie Russ and Caitlin Mutter off the bench.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14630 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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