Saints surrender to experienced Cowboys
EDWARDS – Sometimes rhythm and ability can create beautiful basketball. Other times, they polarize into enemies.Like a deejay trying to spin all the favorites into 32 minutes worth of basketball, the Meeker Cowboys controlled the turntables against Vail Christian on Saturday. The Saints’ loss was not a result of lack of ability. The 2A Cowboys have more senior leadership and game experience and the 1A Saints couldn’t keep up with the constant changes.”We knew, coming in, that this was going to be the hardest game of the year,” said Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns. “Meeker’s a very good team. They play at a faster pace than we can play at.”Although Meeker’s 71-41 defiance of the Saints meant the Cowboys spent the majority of the game basking in glory’s sweet limelight, Vail Christian had its moments and displayed a lot of potential.The Saints had a noticeably more impressive first half, and first quarter, especially.Vail Christian junior Jonathan Armstead put the Saints on the board early. Armstead went on to lead Vail Christian in scoring with 11 points.The Cowboys’ Orrin Johnson posed the toughest defensive debacle for the Saints in the first half. He scored Meeker’s first five points and was a threat from 3-point range all day.The Saints stayed even with Meeker until the end of the first quarter when the Cowboys ran up three last-minute buckets to lead 16-10.
The second quarter was slightly more stagnant. Meeker began the quarter with a quick six points, then the game went scoreless for a solid three minutes.Meeker senior guard Tom Herter, the smallest and skinniest guy on the court, broke the offensive silence with a 3 from the corner. Herter had been threatening with his 3 before, but had stepped out of bounds.Sophomore Caleb Pearson put the Saints’ first second-quarter points on the board with 2:40 left in the half. Meeker’s halftime lead stood at 32-17.”We started out well. We were right with ’em in the first quarter,” said Kuhns. “And then, Meeker just the ability to take us out of game.”As for the second half, Meeker made a testament to playing in the moment. The Cowboys showed true gifts for making good situational decisions and not sticking to rigid game plans, while the Saints found themselves stifled in formulaic play.The Cowboys held Vail Christian scoreless in the third quarter until Saints’ senior James Graef found a lane and a bucket with 2:15 remaining.Little Herter hit four 3s in the third quarter, and Meeker exploded to a 55-19 lead.The Saints regained hope and focus and scored a minor moral victory in the fourth quarter by outscoring Meeker, 22-16. Armstead, Pearson and Graef led the Saints’ offensive effort.”We played a really good team with a lot of senior leadership. We are getting better, but we’re so young and that youth shows,” said Kuhns. “Meeker started pressing, we made mistakes, but they weren’t 30 points better than us, but, at the same time, when you make mistakes, they become 30 points better.”
Graef and Pearson had 10 points apiece for the Saints.Vail Christian’s season record fell to 7-6, and its conference record remains 2-2.”We’re really happy to have a winning record, but we know that if we’re going to advance in the playoffs, we’ve gotta start playing better,” said Kuhns.The Saints face DeBeque on Friday at Berry Creek Middle School at 7:30 p.m.Lady Saints suffer similar defeat to lady CowboysThe Vail Christian girls basketball team fared no better than the guys against a swift and scrappy Meeker team. Meeker won, 60-42.The Saints played an emotional game with a lot of bright moments, but were unable to keep a significant run going.
“I was pleased with the girls; they’re continuing to get better as a team,” said Saints coach Paul Doughty. “Meeker’s a school that’s three times our size. They have a very good program.”Meeker came out fierce in the first half, outscoring the Saints, 34-18.In the second half, Saints’ sophomore Danielle Cavanaugh scored the first points with a 10-foot jumper. Vail Christian kept things going by making a 6-0 run out of the opening two minutes. The Cowboys took a time out, but Saints’ senior Amanda Larson wrenched Meeker’s plans with a steal, taking it coast-to-coast for another bucket.Meeker checked the Saints with a 3. The Cowboys took the momentum from the long score and turned it into a huge third-quarter run, leading by 20 points (51-31) by quarter’s end.The Vail Christian ladies won the fourth quarter, 11-9, behind a slew of foul shots by sophomore Megan Doughty and some gritty play by an ailing Kelli Verderber.With Verderber’s flu infection and a missing Rachel Glandorf, Vail Christian was not disappointed in its overall effort.”Kelli’s sick with the flu, Rachel’s gone and Lauren (Mutter) was hurt. So, to play this close and to be within 12 points with a couple minutes to go, I was very pleased,” said Doughty. “Weak-side rebounding has been a problem for the past two nights. We need to make some adjustments on defense – assign specific positions – to get them to rebound better. The other team got too many easy baskets on second shots, and that was the difference.”Megan Doughty led Saints scorers with 16 points, scoring nine of them in the fourth quarter. Verderber had 13 points, seven rebounds and six blocks. Cavanaugh collected six boards and four steals. Doughty, Larson and Kira Burner had two assists apiece.Vail Christian faces DeBeque on Friday night at Berry Creek Middle School at 6 p.m.