Saints win overtime thriller
EDWARDS – Against Coal Ridge Thursday night, the Vail Christian boys basketball team played, “How many heart attacks can we give our coach in two hours?””These guys are going to put me in the grave early,” Saints head coach Sheldon Kuhns said.Thursday night was not for the faint of heart. Vail Christian trailed by as much 56-37 with 3:40 left in the third quarter against a 2A Coal Ridge team which played well above its youthful roster. The Saints overcame ghastly free throw shooting and an incredible 3-pointer at the buzzer by the Titans’ Kevin Screen to send the game into overtime with clutch play from Caleb Pearson and Jaryd Francis to eke out an 83-78 overtime win.”That’s just an unbelievable game,” Kuhns said. “They stepped up in the second half. What can I say. It was just bottom line, ‘Get off you butt, wake up and let’s play basketball.’ We were standing around on defense. We were lethargic on offense, not playing smart, letting little guys outrebound us.””What I told those guys in the locker room is, ‘We were 3-1. We’re now 3-2. We learned more out of that game right there than we have all season,'” Coal Ridge coach Mike Cox said. “I am so proud of my guys the way they never quit. We’ll be there in the hunt later in the season.”Pearson and Francis
Down 41-28 at the half, it got worse for Vail Christian before it got better. But then, the Saints started to use their size advantage, first in the form of Person. The junior put his team on his back in the third quarter on the way to scoring 13 of his school-record 33 points.”I had no idea how many points I had, but it’s pretty cool,” Pearson said.The fourth quarter belonged to Francis who had 12 of his own in the frame.”I was just trying to help out my team,” said Francis, who ended the night with 32. “I was getting frustrated, so I was going for it.”Francis had a 3-point play with 2:32 left in regulation to give the Saints their first lead of the game and again put the Saints ahead, 72-71, with 42 seconds left in the fourth. When he sunk two free throws with 13.3 seconds remaining, he had seemingly iced the game.From way downtown
Enter Screen, who led his team with 24 points. He popped an incredible 3 from NBA distance to tie the game and send it to OT.”I expected it,” Cox said matter-of-factly.”That was an amazing shot,” Pearson said. “I could not believe it at all. We still had the momentum from coming back from 18 (sic) points down.”The Saints may have had the momentum, but they sure didn’t make it easy in the extra four minutes, going 5-for-10 from the line. “Clank, clank, clank,” Kuhns said somewhat jokingly.Screen and Francis traded buckets to start overtime, but the Titans’ Braxton Jackson sunk one from the charity stripe to give his team a 78-77 lead. Pearson gave the Saints the lead for good with another nifty 3-point play with 1:32 to go for an 80-78 lead. Francis and Josh Sibley sank free throws to clinch the game for Vail Christian.”That guy stuck a knife in our heart when he hit the 25-footer, but our guys came out stayed in control and pulled away,” Kuhns said.
Vail Christian (3-2) is off for Christmas break and returns to action Jan. 7 against Ridgway in its 1A Mountain League opener. Coal Ridge is at Rangely Saturday at 4 p.m.Titans top Lady SaintsUp just 26-24 at the half Thursday night against Vail Christian, Coal Ridge used a 13-0 run to start the third quarter to pull away to a 60-50 win.”I think we had to get a little more intense at halftime,” Titans coach Jacky Gaddis said. “It was kind of hard. We got here really early today. It’s a gym I’ve never been in and the kids have never been in. We just weren’t in that flow.”The Titans wasted no time finding that flow at the beginning of the second half. Callie Schlegel, who led her team with 14 points, started the run with a pair of free throws and layup. Kim Lyons dropped in a 3 30 seconds later, and Coal Ridge was rolling.Matraisa Beecraft scored two from the line and then Schlegel had three more, and all of sudden, the Titans were up, 39-24.
“It was mainly a foul issue, a personnel issue,” Saints coach Paul Doughty said. “Our girls were working hard, but fouls were on their mind and they came out tentative.”Though the Titans would never relinquish the lead, the Saints made a game of it in the fourth quarter. Free throws from Danielle Cavanaugh pulled Vail Christian to within 52-45 midway through the fourth quarter. But another 3 from Lyons with 3:11 left in the game ended the Saints’ charge.Lyons finished with 13 for the Titans. Megan Doughty led the Saints with 23 points, nine steals and seven assists. Cavanaugh nearly also had a triple double also with 17 points, nine steals and eight rebounds.Vail Christian (1-5) is done for the holidays and hosts Ridgway Jan. 7, while Coal Ridge (3-2) is at Rangely Saturday at 2:30 p.m.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14630 or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado