Saints slam North Park, 71-41
EDWARDS, Colorado ” Yes, the Vail Christian boys basketball used a 26-2 third quarter Tuesday night to polish off North Park, 71-41.
In a very welcome development, Saints big man Jaryd Francis returned to action from a right-shoulder injury with 15 points.
And, yes, Vail Christian got superb play from its guards ” Will Parker, Elliot Ristow and A.J. Burgess ” who combined for 42 points.
But Tuesday will be remembered for “The Dunk.”
Saints sophomore Jason Propp had a breakaway with 2:44 left in the game. He went the distance and slammed home the first dunk of his career, elating the Saints, their bench and their fans, who were still taking about it after the game.
“I’m happy for him. First-time dunk? He brought it back and then did the tomahawk. I probably give that a nine,” said Francis, the Saints’ most accomplished dunker.
“That was awesome,” said Ristow, who had 14 points. “I was going nuts on the court. Probably a nine. That was big.”
“It’s his first one ever. It’s a 10,” Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns said.
However it ranks, the Saints were clearly having fun and it showed. Vail Christian’s offense had no problems in the first half. They just needed to settle down in the second half.
“Haltime adjustments. It’s all about those halftime adjustments,” Kuhns dead-panned. “We were playing the right way in the first half. We had all the effort. We were just making it hard on ourselves. We settled it down. We moved our pressure defense back. We just settled down and played smart.”
After surrendering 30 points in the first half, Vail Christian allowed just 11 in the final 16 minutes. Meanwhile, the Saints opened the third quarter with a whopping 21-0 run to blow a 35-30 game wide open.
Burgess got the Saints started with two buckets, followed by Parker, who was outstanding all night, leading the team with 20 points.
Ristow got hot, popping the first of his two 3s in the period. He followed with two layups. After a basket from Larry Cavanaugh, Francis had an easy put-back. The senior didn’t start, but Kuhns eased him back into action in the second and third quarters.
Francis looked pretty comfortable, especially in the second when he scored 13 of his 15 points.
“It felt good to play again, but we just played amazingly as a team out there tonight,” Francis said.
Layups from Chris Schmidt and Burgess along with another 3 from Ristow ended the quarter in style before Propp put the exclamation point on matters.
“A bunch of guys came out big, Chris Schmidt, Will Parker,” Ristow said. “We were just clicking as a bunch.”
Tuesday was win No. 11 for Vail Christian, a new school record. As Francis put it, the Saints “got over the hump” after seasons of 9-10, 9-10 and 10-10 the last three years.
There is still lot a business on tap. The Saints, 11-4 overall and 2-2 in league, start the second run through the conference Friday against DeBeque at St. Clare. Vail Christian then heads to Crested Butte Saturday for a rematch with the Titans who beat the Saints, 56-41, in Edwards last month.
“We’re headed in the right direction,” Kuhns said. “We didn’t set out to win 11 games and call it good. We’ve got a lot more games to win. But we know if we play the way we did in the second half, we don’t have to lose to anybody. It’s exciting.”
Wildcats run past Lady Saints
The North Park girls basketball team has been to the state playoffs five years running and visiting Wildcats showed why Tuesday night, taking out Vail Christian, 57-15.
“They’re a great team and they have improved a ton since we saw them,” said Saints coach Patrick Beaudine, whose team lost at North Park, 58-38, last month. “The thing about them is that they have an inside presence in (Kelsey) Souza and then they have guards who can shoot.”
The Wildcats led 22-4 after the first quarter and never looked back. A bright spot for the Saints was the return of Michelle Discher who led Vail Christian with eight points. Sammantha Francis had four points, while Maty Peckham had a 3.
The Saints, 3-12, host DeBeque Friday at 5 p.m. just two weeks after recording their first win against the Dragons.
“Our girls are excited about playing DeBeque,” Beaudine said. “They have the mental resiliency to bounce back from a game like this. We’re very confident that we will be able to do some things and slow them down.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or email@example.com.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.