Saints win Round 1
DELTA – After its 64-49 win Thursday against Norwood in the first round of the Class 1A District 1 Tournament, the Vail Christian boys’ basketball team was happy, but not too happy.”We’re are excited. At the same time, ‘It’s we’ve got a job to do,'” Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns said. “We’re excited, but our job is not done.”The job would be beating Crested Butte, which dispatched Dove Creek easily in its first-round game, today at 4:30 p.m. to clinch one of the district’s two regional berths. The Saints have never advanced to regionals before, and have lost twice to the Titans in Mountain League play.On the other hand, the Saints have not won a postseason game since 2002, so a mild celebration was in order. What’s more, the way the Saints beat Norwood is a good sign for today’s game Crested Butte.The Saints shook off early postseason jitters, and got big performances from up and down the board against the Mavericks. Caleb Pearson dropped 29 points on Crested Butte, and fellow big man Jaryd Francis was back in the swing of things with 14.Just as pleasing to all who have followed the Saints this year is that both Chase Gruber and A.J. Burgess were in double-digits with 10.
That gave sophomore Will Parker plenty of options, running the offense from the point.”It was great to see our shooting guards knock down some shots and our post players be dominant,” Parker said.Parker also got the honors of guarding Norwood’s chief offensive threat Jared Efard, and did the job well.”It was great. I was glad I could help the team in some way,” Parker said. “I got in a little foul trouble, but we pulled through.”Vail Christian, breaking into double digits in wins for the first time in the program’s history at 10-9, never trailed. Leading 28-25 after 16 minutes, the Saints put the Mavericks to bed with a 36-24 performance in the second half.But the big prize for the No. 3-seeded Saints lies against No. 2 Crested Butte today. The Titans have knocked off Vail Christian, 63-41, on the road, and, 41-36, at St. Clare.”They have great shooters and they really pack it in on defense,” Parker said. “We’re just going to have spread it out and play good defense (today).”
“We feel like today after getting the postseason jitters out of the way for some of the guys, the confidence of winning a playoff game is huge for us,” Kuhns said. “We believe we can beat Crested Butte.”In other District 1 action, No. 5 North Park registered a mild upset of No. 4 DeBeque, 61-48, while No. 1 Ouray cruised past Ridgway, 54-19.Lady Saints fallNorth Park, ranked No. 5 in the state in 1A, came as advertised Thursday, knocking Vail Christian girls’ basketball team out of the District 1 Tournament, 57-32.”I would say our composure on the court was pretty good,” Saints coach Patrick Beaudine said. “We shot so poorly. We picked the worst game of the year to have a bad shooting game.”
The Saints were just 4-of-22 from the floor in the first half and the favored Wildcats capitalized, leading at the break, 34-11.Freshman Bianca Jensen led the Saints with 18 points, followed by Danielle Cavanaugh with nine and Katie Russ with six.”In the locker room after the game, we just told them that they have come so far this year,” Beaudine said. “The next step to have confidence to beat a great team like North Park is to get that time in the gym. What we’ve got to do is build on what we’ve established this year.”Vail Christian finished the year at 5-14.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.