Saints hoops fall at regionals
SILT — The Saints did not read the script.
Without Jessie Hartley, injured during district play last week, Vail Christian girls basketball was meant to go meekly on Friday night against Union Colony at the Class 2A Region C semifinals at Coal Ridge.
Instead, the Saints gave the Timberwolves everything they could handle in a 62-61 heartbreaker.
“I am so proud of them,” Saints coach Beth Raitt said. “They all stepped up. Everyone came up big. They knew they were missing Jessie, but they were going to win and go all the way. That was their attitude.”
The Saints finished the season with 16-7 record, and the scary thought, is that it could have been more. It is not to rub salt into the wound, but note how far Vail Christian girls basketball has come.
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The Saints lost four games to Soroco (twice), West Grand and Union Colony by a total of eight points this season. Given that the Vail Christian ladies had never beaten Soroco until a tight 50-48 win of their own in late January, this is serious progress.
Yet, it still hurts and probably will for a while. Raitt tried to provide some perspective.
“It’s a pit in our stomach right now,” she said. “But once we look back on the whole season, they realize they put Vail Christian on the map. When you look back on the list of all the goals we made at the beginning of the season, we scratched off all but one.”
Saints boys lose to Highland
Any basketball season that ends in March is a good one.
And so it went for the Vail Christian boys basketball team during Friday’s Class 2A Region C semifinals in Coal Ridge with a 72-55 loss to Highland.
With that, Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns’ ban on calling his team young ends. (The coach set this policy so that his team would not use youth as an excuse.)
“Yoda Jedi mind tricks,” aside, as Kuhns joked, Vail Christian finished the year with a 16-7 record and a Gore League title with two seniors and six sophomores making up the varsity roster. If the Saints suited up more players, they were freshman.
This was a young team, a very young team, a team bordering on diaper rash. The Saints started a minimum of three sophomores and, sometimes, had five sophs on the court.
And, nonetheless, this year’s Saints are only eclipsed by the state teams of 2013 and 2014 in the program’s history.
“I can’t say how thankful I am that we were able to make this run (in districts and regionals),” Kuhns said. “This gave the guys experience against competition that had good speed, good strength and good height. You can watch it from the stands, but it’s a different thing until you’re out there.”
Give a lot of credit to the team’s two seniors, Alex Davis and Logan Raitt. From Davis’ game-winner against Roaring Fork in December to Raitt running the show as the point guard all season long, these two helped develop Vail Christian: The Next Generation.
“It wasn’t easy early for them,” Kuhns said. “They stepped up and accepted the task, not thinking of them as young and leading them. Hats off to them.”
Highland’s Cole Rouse went off for 28 points, and was 10-for-12 from the line, when Friday’s game got close.
Highland will play the winner of Paonia and Dayspring Christian, who were set to play late Friday night, with a state berth on the line today.