Saints rely on experience, athleticism |

Saints rely on experience, athleticism

Daily file photoSammy Francis, right, is one of several veterans helping to lead Vail Christian girls basketball under new coach Doug Bruce.

EDWARDS, Colorado ” At first glance, the Vail Christian girls basketball team looks like a really good volleyball squad.

And that could be key to the Saints’ success on the basketball court this season. Under new head coach Doug Bruce, the Saints bring athleticism and experience to a new season.

“Experience will help a lot since Michelle (Disher) Sammy (Francis) and Allie (Parker) all play volleyball,” senior Maty Peckham said. “They know what’s expected. They know what needs to be done.”

The three Peckham listed aren’t the only spikers who return to the court for hoops. Eight of the 13 Saints suiting up for varsity basketball played for Cathy Alexander this fall.

“We do have size and athletic ability,” Bruce said. “We are going to try to rely on the experience of players like Sammy Francis, Michelle Disher and Maty and bring along the younger players. I don’t know how we’re going to start, but we’re going to get progressively better as we go along.”

Meet the Saints

The Saints have plenty of experience at forward. Peckham (small), Francis (power) and Disher (center) are all returning starters.

“Going out on the court with Sammy and Maty gives me a sense of trust,” Disher said. We know each other.”

At point guard Alexis Ellsworth saw playing time last year as well and Brook Bowles at shooting guard has proved her mettle for years in volleyball.

Off the bench, Vail Christian has Parker, Tracy Salgado, Yahaira Ruiz, Carol Vanderveer, Dakota Francis, Kylie Alexander, Ashlyn Gruber and MacKenzie O’Brien.

“We have good athletes this season,” Peckham said.


The key will be translating that experience into performance. Vail Christian struggled to a 3-17 record last year as a 1A squad, and is now playing in the 2A Slope.

“I think we’ve got to sell the girls on the idea that we can’t worry about wins and losses,” Bruce said. “Obviously, we want to win, and we want to win as much as we can, but the important thing is to concentrate on improving every game. The wins and losses will take care of themselves.”

The Saints seem to be buying into Bruce’s game plan.

“He knows how to work with us and push us,” Disher said. “And that makes us push ourselves.”

The Saints open their season Dec. 2 at Hayden and have their home opener Dec. 13 against Soroco.

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

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