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Saints close out regular season

Ian Cropp
Vail, Co Colorado
Theo Stroomer | Daily file photoVail Christian's A.J. Burgess moves the ball up the court during a game earlier this season. Burgess had 13 points in the Saints' win against Ridgway Saturday.
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RIDGWAY, Colorado ” If the Vail Christian boys basketball team had its druthers, it would have played some up-tempo ball this weekend.

But without starting point guard Will Parker, the Saints decided to slow things down a bit.

“It was working out pretty well, and it helped us on defense, but we kind of hurt ourselves a bit on offense,” Vail Christian coach Sheldon Kuhns.

After dropping Friday night’s game to Ouray, 52-29, Vail Christian closed out its regular season Saturday with a 59-45 victory against Ridgway said.

“We finish 13-6, which is our best record in school history, so we’re really excited about that,” Kuhns said.

On Saturday, the Saints dispatched the Demons for the third time this season.

“We started out sluggish and were down, 26-22, at half,” Kuhns said. “We finally woke up and put them away.”

The Saints had a double-digit lead heading into the final frame and were able to extend it thanks to some solid free-throw shooting by Elliot Ristow.

“He was 9-for-12 from the line in the fourth,” Kuhns said. “They kept fouling him, and he kept knocking them down.”

As a team, the Saints were 13-for-17 from the line in the fourth ” an improved effort compared with past games.

“That has been an Achilles’ heel for us,” Kuhns said.

Vail Christian spread out its scoring, with three guys in double digits. Jaryd Francis had a team-high 18, followed by Ristow (13) and A.J. Burgess (12). Chris Schmidt and Chase Gruber each tallied seven points.

“I was pretty happy with how we finished the deal,” Kuhns said. “We’ve been pretty good this year at closing out games.”

On Friday, the Saints started out the game executing their slow-tempo plan quite well.

“We led, 11-10, after the first quarter, then (Ouray) kind of caught fire in the second and outscored us, 21-4, and we dug ourselves into a hole and couldn’t get out of it,” Kuhns said.

The Trojans ” down, 11-7, with time running out in the first ” sank a three-pointer and opened the second with another trey.

“Ouray hit the offensive boards well, too,” Kuhns said.

Vail Christian (4-4 in the 1A Mountain League) awaits Monday’s seeding for districts, although they already have a good idea as to whom they’ll face.

“It could be DeBeque or Ridgway (on Thursday), and we’ve beaten each of them three times,” Kuhns said.

If Vail Christian wins its first game, it’ll likely face Crested Butte, which it’s lost to twice.

Kuhns said Parker should be back this week, giving Vail Christian a full squad for the first time since early January.

Late in the fourth quarter in the final weekend of the regular season, the Saints’ girls were still pushing hard.

“That says a lot about the team as far as their character,” coach Patrick Beaudine said.

Unfortunately, the Saints came up on the short end of a pair of games to close out the 1A Mountain League.

On Friday, Vail Christian fell, 48-17, to Ouray and then lost to Ridgway, 49-32, on Saturday. The Saints held a 10-8 lead against the Demons but couldn’t find the bucket much in the middle two quarters.

“We had our shots ” they just weren’t dropping,” Beaudine said.

Senior Hannah Morris had a team-high 15 points against Ridgway, with Michelle Disher picking up a double-double.

“Hannah did a great job,” Beaudine said.

The Saints chipped in 15 points in the final frame.

“We came back in a full-court press and started putting pressure on them and creating stuff,” Beaudine said.


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