Saints win two at Hayden
Special to the Daily
HAYDEN — The Vail Christian girls basketball team finally got that elusive win in Hayden’s gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.
Led by sensational freshman Jessie Raitt, the Saints used a hot first quarter and cruised to victory over the Tigers, 40-25, the first time Vail Christian has ever won in Hayden.
“The effort was great tonight,” Saints coach Doug Bruce said. “The execution wasn’t great, but we got off to a great start, which proved to be really important.”
Both teams played emotional Friday-evening games, which took a bit of a tired-legs toll on both rosters. Hayden put up a valiant effort at rival Soroco, eventually losing, 68-39. The Saints won a shootout at home versus West Grand, 69-63.
The ramped-up games Friday night coupled with Vail Christian’s lengthy bus ride to Hayden left some noticeably tired bodies on Saturday, especially in the second half. It was the Saints who were able to grab at 16-8 first-quarter lead and tack on some gimme points down the stretch for the 15-point win.
“That was our goal to come out and make sure we got off to a good start,” Bruce said. “We played really hard last night against West Grand. It was a shootout. We had to play 32 hard minutes, and I thought in the second half tonight we looked flat out of gas.”
Raitt was all over the floor against Hayden after scoring 26 against West Grand. She had a game-high 11 points to go along with seven rebounds and a pair of assists. Jessie Hartley and Remy Beveridge combined to score 16 more for the Saints.
The Saints (6-2) have a tough road contest on Tuesday at Soroco (7-1). They then head to De Beque on Friday before the three-day holiday weekend.
Sug leads the boys
HAYDEN — The Vail Christian High School boys basketball team goes as senior Sug Ellsworth goes, and he went off in a big way Saturday afternoon at Hayden in a Class 2A Western Slope League contest.
Ellsworth, a three-year varsity starter, exploded in the early going and finished things off in the Saints’ 63-39 win over the Tigers, who are now 0-9.
Ellsworth scored Vail Christian’s first 14 points and closed out the second half with a game-high 26 points to go along with 10 rebounds.
“He’s our captain and our leader,” Vail Christian coach Sheldon Kuhns said. “The kids really look to him just to be our guy on the court. I thought he did a really good job defensively tonight, too. He played the passing lanes well and rebounded nicely like he always does. He’s definitely our go-to guy.”
Both teams played late and taxing games Friday night, but the Saints (4-3) shrugged off most of the cobwebs and opened things up after leading by just three points after the first quarter.
Vail Christian’s lead increased after each quarter thereafter, taking a 11-point halftime advantage that swelled to 17 by the end of the third quarter and 24 when things were all said and done.
Most of the Saints’ 63 points came in the paint or just outside of it. Kuhns said Ellsworth’s down-low counterpart Cooper Gould didn’t have his best game (two points, five rebounds), but guys like Logan Raitt (15 points, three rebounds) and Alex Davis (eight points, eight rebounds) helped pick up any slack.
The Saints did a decent job taking care of the ball, committing just 10 turnovers to Hayden’s 21. Vail Christian wasn’t without some flaws, though, Kuhns admitted, especially finishing around the rim and making free throws count.
“We did struggle to finish the ball tonight, and struggled a little bit at the free-throw line,” Kuhns said. “But we were able to get the ball inside when we wanted to.”