Saints hang on to beat Titans |

Saints hang on to beat Titans

Daily Staff Report

Short-handed girls fall to Crested Butte, 58-18By Ian CroppDaily Sports WriterEDWARDS – Vail Christian boys basketball coach Sheldon Kuhns was all smiles after his team’s game Friday night.And his team won.The ever-happy Kuhns had an extra-wide grin, courtesy of the Saints’ 61-58 victory over Crested Butte at St. Clare.While Vail Christian led for most of the second half, the Titans used late 3-pointers to stay within striking distance. With 10 seconds remaining, the Titans had a chance to drop another shot from beyond the arc to send the game into overtime, but were unable to score, sealing the win for the Saints.”That was exciting,” Kuhns said. “We’ve lost our last two close games, so to pull that one out is huge.”As has been the case in many games, the Saints came out slowly in the first quarter. After the first eight minutes, Crested Butte led, 16-12.In the second quarter, with the Saints’ Jonathan Armstead on the bench tending to a rolled ankle and Jaryd Francis in foul trouble, Caleb Pearson put on an offensive show.By halftime, the Saints had gained a 30-29 lead, thanks to Pearsons dropping 20 points.”I had to step it up,” Pearson said.”Caleb was on fire,” Kuhns said. “He kept us in the game.”Nearly all of Pearsons’ game-high 31 points came from in the paint.”That’s my job,” Pearsons said of dominating down low.At halftime, both teams made adjustments.”We switched into a zone in the second half, trying to contain them from getting points in the paint,” said Crested Butte coach Jason Fowler. “It worked well for us, but a lot of our outside shots weren’t falling.”And Vail Christian went to the outside shots, and it worked.Josh Sibley (12 points) and Armstead (four points) dropped some key jump shots, while Francis (12 points) penetrated the Titans’ zone to grab some buckets, and the Saints jumped out to a 41-33 lead in the third quarter.”Coach said to us, ‘You need to explode in the second half,'” Armstead said. “Against Battle Mountain JV (Tuesday) when Coach said that and asked if we wanted to win nobody said anything. But tonight I believed (the win) would come. I didn’t believe it against Battle Mountain.”Crested Butte, even without its top scorer or rebounder, clawed back in the third and fourth quarter.”I was expecting to be beaten a lot more on the boards, but we did well rebounding. That’s what kept us in the game,” Fowler said.That, and some clutch shooting from the Titans beyond the arc.”We wanted to pull away, but they had some key 3-pointers at the end,” Kuhns said.The Titans’ John Wright did most of his damage down low, collecting a team-high 24 points, while teammates Zach Vosburg (17) and Will Curry (nine) provided the deep threat.Against a fast Crested Butte squad, the Saints’ defense prevented transition points in the second half, and grabbed 12 steals on the game.”We played smart basketball,” Kuhns said. “We made too many mistakes in the first half, so we slowed down the game in the second half and didn’t try to get into a running battle with them.”Titans tumble SaintsComing into Friday night’s game, the Vail Christian girls basketball squad knew it had a tough task ahead.With three starters out due to injuries, the Saints needed several freshman to log significant time against a Crested Butte team that had lost only one game this year.The Titans took advantage and pounded the Saints in the first three quarters en route to a 58-18 win.”We wanted to keep them down to 40 points or less, and we were making some substitutions and couldn’t match up with their size,” said Vail Christian coach Paul Doughty. “Our intensity and effort were there, though.”At the end of the third quarter, the Titans led 47-7, but the Saints had plenty of fight left in them. Led by converted point guard Kira Burner (team-high six points), the Saints scored 11 points to close out the game.”I don’t know how Megan (Doughty) does it,” Burner said of the Saints’ injured point guard. “She’s amazing. She’s the top scorer all the time, and it’s such a tough position.”Crested Butte didn’t make Burner’s job any easier with defenders swarming all over her, as well as her pass outlets. Still, Paul Doughty was impressed with how Burner handled the pressure.”Maturity-wise, she did a great job to lead the team,” Doughty said.The Titans spread out their offense, with three scorers in double digits. Rachel Holder had a game-high 14 points, followed by Emma Vosburg (12) and Hannah Godwin (10).By the end of the game, the Saints’ younger players were evenly matched with the Titans.”The freshman really stepped up,” Burner said.Saints’ freshman Michelle Disher and Kirstie Eckert each had a basket, and provided some quality defense.”Knowing that I have these younger girls who are playing and getting better every game is encouraging,” Doughty said.Vail Christian senior Cecilia Martin was a menace on defense, collecting seven steals before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. Jill Shainholtz scored five points and collected 17 rebounds.Doughty was happy with the improvement he saw, and hopes it will continue.”We are here to get better,” Doughty said. “We know we aren’t going to win a state championship this year, but we set our goals to get better each game.”Today, the Saints face Meeker, with the girls starting at 3 p.m. and the boys at 4:30 p.m.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14631, or, Colorado

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