Saints sweep North Park
EDWARDS — Welcome to the second half, Saints.
Both Vail Christian basketball teams ended the first go-round of the Gore League on Saturday with wins over North Park at the Wheeler Athletic Center in Edwards.
The boys moved to 5-0 in league, taking down the Wildcats, 75-29, while the ladies (3-2) rolled to a 64-49 victory.
And what better way to start the second half for both teams than a visit to Soroco on Thursday? The gents have a chance to take a big step toward repeating as Gore League champs, while the girls will be looking to avenge a tough 58-54 loss to the Rams, now ranked No. 7 in the latest 2A CHSAA poll.
“If we continue to continue to play well, hit out free throws and finish, I think we will do well,” said Vail Christian girls coach Beth Raitt, who just as well could have been speaking for the boys team. “There’s always a lot of emotion involved.”
Boys find groove after first quarter
The Vail Christian boys won 46 points on Saturday, so it’s not like they phoned it in. On the other hand, it wasn’t crisp, as strange as it sounds.
“We started a little sluggish,” Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns said. “Maybe it was little bit of a hangover from a tough loss (to Shining Mountain on Friday night). But our defense picked it up from the second quarter on. Also in the second quarter, we started to make that extra pass.”
Leading only 17-13 after the first period, Vail Christian got a 9-0 run, capped by a pretty fast break, started by Ethan Kuhns with a long pass to Sebastian Moritz, who dished it to Joseph Emmer. That would be the passing to which the coach referred.
Vail Christian then played some 3-ball, with Moritz striking twice, followed by Logan Raitt and Alex Davis. A 21-4 second quarter sent the Saints into the break up at 38-17.
And after allowing 13 points in the first quarter, the Saints only gave up 16 the rest of the way.
Vail Christian had balanced scoring with four players in double-digits — Raitt (16), Moritz (16) Bryan Trujillo (12) and Ethan Kuhns (10).
Give it up for Kuhns. That was the first double-double of his career. That’s special for a kid who has grown up watching his dad’s team since he was a tyke and now is suiting up as a varsity basketball player.
“It’s really a dream come true,” Kuhns, a sophomore, said. “I’ve watched these guys have success, and it’s awesome to be a part of that now.”
Saints ladies roll
The Lady Saints took control from the start, taking a 19-2 lead on a Jessie basket. To clarify, that was Jessie Hartley to Jessie Raitt. Vail Christian’s press produced many transition scores.
The Jessies scored 12 of the Saints’ 25 in the first quarter. Kass Baker, whose name is not Jessie, for some reason, was also going off for nine.
“You know, sometimes, we’re all pretty much the same person,” Hartley said of her team and the Jessie question. “We never have drama. We’re like a family, especially at a small school.”
After eight minutes, the Saints (7-6 overall) led the Wildcats, 25-9.
Hartley finished with 16 points, a season high and also a nice reward for all the tough defensive work she’s done this season.
“She’s taking better shots,” Beth Raitt said. “We’ve been talking about that. ‘Do what you do well.’ She’s getting the floating jumpers and the inside shot. That’s showing.”
Jessie Raitt ended the afternoon with 13, while Baker had 16. Marti Schmidt, also not named Jessie, totaled 12.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.
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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.