Saints ready to march |

Saints ready to march

VC Boys Basketball1 KH 1-13-07

EDWARDS ” Vail Christian boys basketball coach Sheldon Kuhns is optimistic about his team’s chances this season.

We qualify this remark by saying that Kuhns has always been an upbeat guy. But he really has many reasons to be pumped about 2007-08.

After 9-10, 9-10 and 10-10 season, this genuinely looks like the year Vail Christian basketball takes it to the next level.

“The thing with Vail Christian basketball in the past is that we had one or two guys who could score,” Kuhns said. “We can score with all five starters and we’re going eight, nine and 10 players deep on our bench, The fact that we have a bench is also big. We don’t have to play guys extra minutes and foul trouble won’t kill us.”

It’s not just a 2-1 start that has Kuhns bubbling. The Saints are legitimately no longer a team that relies on posts Caleb Pearson, who has graduated, and Jaryd Francis, back for his senior year.

Perhaps more importantly, the Saints finally have a point guard. In the young history of the program, not having a true No. 1 has been the team’s Achilles’ Heel. While Francis doubtless will be key to Vail Christian’s fortunes, it’s junior Will Parker growing into the point-guard position that has the Saints thinking big this year.

“Will is probably the first true point guard we’ve had,” Kuhns said. “The point guard can control the tempo and the offense, and Will is definitely an Energizer bunny.”

Parker has many options as he dribbles down the court, as opposed to the obligatory pass to Francis underneath the bucket. A.J. Burgess is the shooting guard. Chase Gruber is a not-so-small small forward. Francis is actually the power forward, while sophomore Larry Cavanaugh is back from a broken collar bone during football season to play center.

Off the bench, Kuhns can call on Chris Schmidt, Elliott Ristow, Dustin Martin, Bubba Murray, Kieran Hurtt and Juan Gonzalez.

While balance is critical, there’s no disputing Francis’ talent. The key will be getting him in good spots throughout the season.

“He’s not going to be our primary post,” Kuhns said. “We’re going to have Larry and Chase inside. If (opposing teams) put their big man on them, we’ve got a mismatch with Jaryd. If they don’t, we can move Jaryd outside where he’s got another mismatch. He’s our best 3-point shooter.”

After a season opening 82-42 loss to Lutheran Parker, the Saints have bounced back nicely with a 60-30 dumping of Rocky Mountain Lutheran and a 71-48 rout of Soroco. More importantly at least nine different players scored in both of the wins.

The Saints head to Plateau Valley for a tournament today. Vail Christian meets up with DeBeque today at 5 p.m. Vail Christian faces Plateau Valley and Ridgway Saturday.

Lady Saints make strides

It’s all about fundamentals for the Vail Christian girls basketball team.

“I would say simply that basketball is one level a very simple game,” Saints coach Patrick Beaudine. “For example, getting open on the wings, catching the ball and facing the basket or making a high percentage pass. Those are the things we’re working on to become and efficient team.”

The Saints are 0-3, including a tight 41-39 decision to Rocky Mountain Lutheran.

Hannah Morris and Nayely Hernandez make up the backcourt. Bianca Jensen is the small forward and likely the sparkplug of the team, but she’s out with an ankle injury until January.

Beaudine’s using this time to work with different combinations. Michelle Disher is at center, while Maty Peckham is the power forward. Sammantha Francis, Hannah Vancurren, Alexis Ellsworth and Tracy Salgado will also see significant playing time.

The Saints are also at the Plateau Valley Tournament, starting today.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or

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