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Saints handle Demons at districts

Ian Cropp
Vail, CO Colorado
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DELTA, Colorado ” Those three regular-season wins Vail Christian tallied against Ridgway were quite nice, but they didn’t count for much at Thursday’s district tournament.

Fortunately for the Saints, they picked up win No. 4 against the Demons ” the one that keeps the season alive. With a convincing 63-38 victory, Vail Christian advanced to today’s district semifinals.

Vail Christian controlled the tempo from the start and took a nine-point lead into halftime.

“We did some good things for a while but really put them away in the third quarter,” Vail Christian coach Sheldon Kuhns said. “We were scoring well and shooting with confidence, and we played great defense.”

In the third quarter, the Saints put the game out of reach, scoring 22 points to the Demons’ 11. Vail Christian’s Jaryd Francis had a game-high 27 points, while teammate Chris Schmidt chipped in 12.

Kuhns was happy with how the Saints controlled the glass.

“We rebounded the ball well and got transition buckets off their misses,” he said. “That’s something we’ve been stressing.”

Ridgway didn’t have much luck on offense, thanks to a swarming Vail Christian defense.

“We put our half-court trap on them in the second quarter, and that bothered them,” Kuhns said.

Chase Gruber added seven points for the Saints, with A.J. Burgess netting six.

Early in the second quarter, Vail Christian’s Will Parker reaggraveted an ankle injury and will be out for the rest of rest of districts.

“It’s a bit of a bummer, but it’s part of the game,” Kuhns said. “It’s an opportunity for other guys to step up.”

Vail Christian, the No. 3 seed, will face No. 1 Crested Butte today at 4:30 p.m.

“I think we’ll got at it the same way we went at it (Thursday),” Kuhns said. “We’ll try to limit their possession time a little more. They are an explosive offensive team.”

Crested Butte is 2-0 against Vail Christian this season, with a 90-46 win in Crested Butte and a 56-41 win in Edwards.

“They can run and score in transition and shoot pretty well,” Kuhns said. “We want to keep the game in the 40s or 50s. They key for us will be handing their full-court pressure, which is something we’ve worked on.”

The winners of Class A Disctirct 1 semifinals will both advance to regionals.

Crested Butte’s girls basketball team knows how to pressure its opponents and had a 16-2 record heading into Thursday’s game against Vail Christian as proof.

The Titans, twice winners over the Saints before this week’s district championship, found a much-improved Vail Christian squad ready to handle some pressure.

Unfortunately for the Saints, the baskets weren’t falling, and the Titans advanced through with a 51-22 win.

“In a nutshell, we handled their pressure the entire game and got a lot of scoring opportunities,” Vail Christian coach Patrick Beaudine said. “We were in a great position to execute against their half-court trap. We just didn’t score as much as we needed to.”

Crested Butte scored 20 points in the first quarter, but Vail Christian clamped down on defense the rest of the game.

“We played tough defense and frustrated them,” Beaudine said.

Point guard Hannah Morris led the Saints with six points, while Michelle Discher and Maddy Peckham each scored four.

“Hannah did a great job of penetrating against their star player, and she showed great leadership,” Beaudine said. “We had some great contributions off the bench and our girls showed a toughness out there.”

Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.


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