Saints finally get postseason hardware |

Saints finally get postseason hardware

Vail Christian's Parker Poage makes a layup on a breakaway to start a 29-0 run against Plateau Valley at Vail Christian on Saturday. Vail Christian went on to win, 75-23.
Anthony Thornton | |

EDWARDS — Teams scatter after the season is done.

Players end up on ‘Letterman’ or SportsCenter and so on.

OK, Vail Christian boys basketball had spring break and mission trips, and it took until Monday to get together for its awards. But it was worth the wait.

Branden Currey, Ethan Ellsworth and Parker Poage all made first-team all-league in the 2A Slope, while Cooper Gould was honorable mention and Sheldon Kuhns got 2A Slope Coach of the Year.

Not bad for a team that returned no starters, yet made a return trip to the 1A state tournament.

Just like football

For Currey and Ellsworth, that’s double all-league honors in one year. Currey was the quarterback and a member of the secondary for the Saints in the fall and a forward on the hardwood. Ellsworth won for best imitation of Dick Butkis and was also in the front court with Currey in the winter.

Currey was the Saints’ only returning letter-winner, and became the team’s leader through his actions. He crashed the boards on both ends, often starting the offensive break or going up for the put-back. He also clearly learned the art of the 15-foot jump shot from Christian Laettner, who held a camp for the Saints in early January.

“Branden always drew the assignment of the other team’s best player,” Kuhns said. “If it was a big post player or a quick guard, he could do both, whatever he needed to do.”

Ellsworth blossomed into a rebounding machine this winter, and the points came with that. Sug, as he better known to everyone at Vail Christian, had 232 rebounds, one shy of Caleb Pearson’s single-season record for Saints basketball. Ellsworth put up 33 points in a memorable overtime win over archrival Soroco. The good news for Vail Christian is that he’s only a junior.

“Sug was a man-inmal, crashing the boards,” Kuhns said. “He stalked the ball wherever it went.”

Poage was probably the biggest surprise in a season of surprises at Vail Christian. Who knew the 6-foot-6 kid had a shooting touch like that? Poage, who rode the bench last year, turned into the team’s leading scorer and broke the school record for 3-pointers in season, held by Robby Bowles.

Poage also garnered second-team, all-state honors from The Denver Post, while Currey was honorable mention all-state on that list.

Gould nabbed honorable mention all-league with his gritty play in the paint. Ironically, his best game likely came after the all-league vote happened. Gould had 15 points and 14 rebounds in the Saints’ win over Primero to qualify for the state tournament.

Guy with the whistle

Not to be left out, Kuhns got the nod from his fellow coaches of the 2A Slope as Coach of the Year. As much as a coach is only as good as his or her players, as he will acknowledge, Kuhns was particularly adept in 2013-14 in retooling on the fly with players who started the year with not much playing experience. As the season went through its inevitable bumps, Kuhns kept the Saints focused on the task at hand, a return trip to state.

Kuhns shares the honor with assistant coach Todd Ellsworth.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, and @cfreud.

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