Saints JV edges Vail Mountain
EAST VAIL, Colorado ” Appropriately, the volleyball nets went up in Vail Mountain’s gym immediately after the Gore Rangers’ and Saints’ junior-varsity basketball game finished Wednesday evening in East Vail.
When one puts Vail Mountain and Vail Christian ” or vice versa, depending on one’s allegiance ” in the same sentence, it usually involves volleyball in the fall. The Blue Vail Rivalry ” both teams wear the same colors and their partisans always seem to yell “Go Vail” ” is most storied with the spikers.
But the rivalry is getting a gentle start in basketball as the Saints got the better of the Gore Rangers, 45-40, Wednesday, avenging 38-15 loss to VMS earlier this month.
“I think it’s going to be fun,” Vail Christian JV coach Patrick Beaudine said. “They beat us by more than 20 (points) the last time we played them. Vail Mountain’s an athletic, good team.”
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” VMS coach Vincent Cisneros said. “This school enjoys it. Their school enjoys it. I’m happy to be a part of it. We got one on them. They took one from us. It’s going to be good.”
Vail Mountain is in its first year of basketball, so the Gore Rangers are playing as a JV squad. Since the hosts were facing Vail Christian’s JV, the teams mirrored each other, and not just by the tight score.
Each game remains a learning experience for both teams. Turnovers continued to plague VMS Wednesday.
“We’re doing a lot of good things,” Cisneros said. “One of the things we really need to work on is taking care of the ball. Give all the credit in the world to the Saints, they caused a lot of turnovers, but I think we caused a lot more turnovers than they caused.”
Meanwhile, Vail Christian’s JV is focused on developing players for varsity next season as a team and as individuals as the Saints graduate four from the varsity squad this spring.
Saints junior Cody Bakken, who led all scorers with 15 points, is on the Vail Christian taxi squad. He’s mostly a JV player but dresses for varsity games. Bakken hopes that if things break right ” good play from him on JV likely along with a blowout by the varsity ” he can get some playing time with the big-league Saints.
“I hoping for next year,” he said. “I’m showing myself on JV. If I play well, (varsity) coach (Sheldon Kuhns) is like, ‘Cody, you can play.’ If not, ‘Cody, keep working.'”
Meanwhile, Beaudine, of all people, knows what Cisneros and company are going through in establishing a new basketball program. In two different stints, Beaudine coached the varsity girls team at Vail Christian during its early years.
“We can see the same growing pains and we respect them,” Beaudine said. “Vail Mountain School is a great school. To see what we’re able to do now what we were doing a few years ago, it does bring satisfaction.”
The Gore Rangers led late into the second quarter before Willy Eyrich sank a jumper with 2:26 left in the half to give the Saints the lead at 20-19.
VMS kept charging though behind 10 points from Sean McKeever and Alex Bard (eight) and Sean Minett (seven).
While Steil Beagley scored 10 and Sam Saafeld seven for Vail Christian, Eyrich knocked down a huge 3-pointer which essentially iced it for the Saints.
“I was really happy that he hit that,” Bakken said. “I was getting in position for the rebound and it went in. I was like, ‘Thank you, Willie.'”
And so the Saints and Gore Rangers are even at one win each in this new rivalry. As Vail Mountain builds up its numbers, the school hopes to join the 2A Slope and get on the same level as its Edwards neighbors.
But as the volleyball nets were installed Wednesday night, this version of the Blue Vail Rivalry still has a ways to go before it approaches the fall rivalry between the two schools.
“We’re sort of rivals, I’d say, because we’re in the same valley,” Bakken said. “I love playing against them because you get bragging rights if you win and they get bragging rights if they win. It’s just a fun game. You know most of them. It’s just a game to go have fun in.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.