Saints flame out against Dragons
EDWARDS – When DeBeque sophomore Trace Graham stepped in to the lane Friday night and took a charge from Vail Christian’s Jaryd Francis with 4:32 remaining in the fourth quarter, hopes of an upset win for the Saints dissolved instantaneously.The foul – Francis’ fifth – was the crushing blow delivered by DeBeque in the Dragons’ 60-43 win. After going scoreless from the field in the first half, the Saints’ freshmen center poured in 12 second-half points to whittle down a 17-point Dragons’ lead to 41-31 midway through the final period.The Dragons stellar scoring tandem of Forest Matis and Seth Counts – who were also responsible for getting Saints starters Jonathan Armstead and Caleb Pearson into early foul trouble – tried to make Francis take a seat by continuing to attack the basket. It was little-used reserve Graham, however, who ended up delivering for his team.And, with Francis out of the game, so were the Saints. Behind a final offensive surge, the Dragons reasserted themselves and rolled to the final 17-point margin.”Fouling is not what we need to do,” Francis said afterward. “I got four quick fouls and I needed to stick it out, so I had to lay back a little bit. I tried to stay in there as long as I could. I was pleased with how I played. I just wish we could have played better as a team.”
Armstead was the first Saint to get into early foul trouble Friday when he picked up four before halftime. Pearson quickly joined him with four of his own, thus forcing Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns to use his bench creatively to try to keep his team in the game in the second half.The coach said, despite the surge late, that he was disappointed with his team’s overall performance. The early fouls, he said, were just too much for which to compensate, and a poor shooting performance at the freethrow line only made things worse.The Saints finished 9-for-21 overall as a team from the stripe.”They’re a good team and a fast team, which is something we struggle with,” Kuhns said. “The early foul trouble killed us. We never got back into rhythm. We just struggled offensively in the first half. We don’t shoot the ball well anyway, so when the ball’s not going in and we start to press ourselves a little bit, it’s bad. Defensively, we played well, but on offense – it was one of those nights.”Vail Christian surprised the Dragons at the outset of the game by jumping out to a 7-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. Counts and Matis got hot in the second quarter and DeBeque went on an 18-5 run before halftime to take a commanding 24-12 lead into the locker room. Counts finished as the leading scorer with 18 points, followed by Matis who had 16. Francis was the Saints leading scorer with 14 points off 4-for-10 shooting from the field and a 6-for-8 performance from the free throw line. Saints’ senior Jamie Graef finished with five points and Armstead, who finished the game despite his four quick fouls, tallied six.With the loss Vail Christian fell to 7-7 overall. The Saints tip off again today against Crested Butte at 2:30 p.m at Berry Creek Middle School.
“I wish that we could have made our shots and run the offense the way it was meant to be,” Francis said. “Overall, I think we ran our fast breaks really well and got a lot of fast-break points that we usually don’t get. That was good.” Lady Saints struggle”We played one of the best teams in the state. They came to play and we came to watch.”So said Vail Christian girls basketball coach Paul Doughty after his team was run off the floor Friday in a 78-38 loss to fifth-ranked DeBeque.Nothing seemed right from the get-go for the Lady Saints. The Dragons forced 16 turnovers in the first half en route to very comfortable 46-14 lead at the half.
Things didn’t get any better in the final 16 minutes. The Dragons made more than 60 percent of their 3-pointers and held Saints’ senior star Rachel Glandorf to 12 points.Kelli Verderber was Vail Christian’s second-leading scorer with seven.”The girls were disappointed in themselves,” Doughty said. “They didn’t run our offense. They loafed on defense and made bad fouls. They didn’t block out. They did everything opposite of what we would have to do to win.”The most telling moment of the loss was a fast-break opportunity in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Danielle Cavanaugh – a reliable scorer – missed an open lay-up, and then Glandorf missed an easy put back before being called for a foul on the ensuing rebound.”We just had a hard practice week,” Glandorf said. “We weren’t doing very well in practice this week and it showed.”The Saints, now 5-9 overall, tip off again today against Crested Butte at 4 p.m. at Berry Creek Middle School.Staff Writer Nate Peterson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at email@example.com.