Saints face ‘Friday’ |

Saints face ‘Friday’

OK, guys, this ain’t hard. Saturday comes after Friday.

Welcome … again, to Friday in Olathe for the district semifinals, this year against Plateau Valley at 7:30 p.m.

But Friday at districts has always been the threshold for Vail Christian boys basketball – be it the old tourney with defunct Mountain League, the 2A Slope or the current format of the 1A Slope and San Juan League.

Win on Friday and the team advances to regionals – the top two from districts qualify and said finals Saturday are for seeding in the next round. This has always been the goal. Just win on Friday and make the next step.

Not only has it never happened – the boys have never made it to Saturday – but the Saints seemingly have specialized in losing in excruciating fashion.

• Norwood 49-47, 2012. … The Mavericks have ended the Saints’ season four times in school history.

• Ouray, 59-56, 2011. … Saints lose to former league rival.

• Hayden, 62-54, 2010. … 0-5 against blasted Hayden.

• Hayden, 51-34, 2009. … Three losses to the Tigers in one year, one in OT; and one of the others was the Will Parker Nose Guard Game.

• Crested Butte, 49-38, 2008 … This was 39-38 with less than two minutes.

• Crested Butte, 51-30, 2007 … Three losses to the Titans in one year – see the theme?

• Norwood, 43-42, 2006 … The Saints had finally beaten DeBeque and Ouray this season. (Big stuff at the time, people.)

• DeBeque, 41-40, 2005 … Before Hayden, DeBeque kept tormenting the Saints. Seriously, Vail Christian was 0-for-10 against the Dragons.

So why is this year?

Well, in all of these district semifinals, Vail Christian was always going against the top seed of the tournament. That’s tough and the Saints, by and large, have been competitive. Today, the Saints are the No. 1 seed.

With the top seed out of the Slope and a bye through the first round, the Saints don’t see the San Juan League’s best, Norwood (12-6), knock wood, until Saturday, when regional berths are already settled. (With the caveat that December was a long time ago, Vail Christian beat the Mavs, 62-37, in the second game of the season.)

Also different from past years is that the Saints are healthy right now. The Saints went into districts last year with Kevin Boselli hurting. Parker was out in 2008. That list goes on and on.

And in a unique concept, Vail Christian is playing real defense. No fooling. While rebounding and defense and defense and rebounding differentiates this team from the previous guard-oriented squads that have been to Olathe recently, there’s something else worth noting.

Usually, Saints teams have two threats offensively, say, like Caleb Pearson and Jaryd Francis. Or Fernando Hernandez and Robby Bowles. Now, there’s still Bowles, but there’s also Gunnar Wilson and Kevin Boselli, who have established themselves as threats. Chris Schmidt can also go off. More options are better, especially when opposing teams are looking for Bowles.

Now my humble requests:

• Defense and rebounding and rebounding and defense. And play more defense after that.

• Cool it in transition: I know you guys like to push it, and sometimes it works out gloriously with style. Take care of the ball. If the break is there and really open, go. If not, chill. I know I’m nitpicking, but it’s my job. There have been too many turnovers going for the home run ball this season, and every possession counts.

• Keep your cool: This would be Round 3 with Plateau Valley. The Cowboys put Wilson through a wood-chipper last weekend. We joke – Barbara Wilson probably didn’t find it amusing – but Gunnar did a great job here. Keep your mouth shut and just keep doing your job. You pay them back by going hard to the bucket and scoring.

• Go get it, guys.

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