Tebow Time: Saints ladies come back late
EDWARDS – The defense is stout. The offense is sluggish, but managed to rally late for a tight win.
Yep, the fourth quarter became Tebow Time for the Vail Christian girls basketball team against North Park Thursday. The Saints used a 14-5 fourth-quarter run to eke out a 35-32 win against the Wildcats in Edwards.
We would call it Tyler Palko/Kyle Orton Time since Vail Christian coach Doug Bruce is a Kansas City Chiefs fan, but …
“I thought we picked up the pace in the fourth quarter and we went out and pressured man-to-man full-court,” the coach said. “We’ve noticed through the first five games that this team is better when we’re getting up the floor and pressuring them. It’s kind of hard to do when you’re trying to play seven girls and you’re not in the kind of condition we want to be in, so it’s hard, but they give me everything they’ve got.”
And it showed in the fourth quarter for Vail Christian (3-2). As Claude Raines would say, “Round up the usual suspects,” because it was Ashlyn Gruber and McKenzie O’Brien to the rescue.
Down 27-21, Gruber got the steal through the press and took it home for a layup and knocked down her next two points from the free-throw line. Madama O’Brien had the Saints’ next three buckets and the Saints took the lead, 31-29, with 3:19 left.
Kylie Alexander and Gruber finished the night up with clutch free throws – the latter was 5-for-5 from the stripe in the final quarter.
“We were just trying to start some movement and create some open shots and take all of our opportunities,” said Gruber, who led the Saints with 17 points.
While it’s funny to make Tebow/Broncos comparisons, there is some validity to them. The Saints can play defense – they beat West Grand, 29-15, last week. The question is mustering the offense.
The task for Vail Christian is to get some points from the transition game off the press.
“Without those, we’re not scoring on well on half-court offense,” Bruce said. “I think you could see tonight that we need to get better ball movement. Up until tonight, I thought we’d been creating a lot of good shots, but I didn’t think we were as good tonight against their zone, creating good shots, especially in the first half. … I thought we did a better job in the second half. I told the girls at halftime, I don’t think North Park is going to score more than 32 points in this game.”
And while this might make us think that Bruce is Nostradamus, the Wildcats led 16-13 at the half. By the way, good luck to all on math finals today.
Nando shines for the guys
We are writing about the Vail Christian School, but this is really the Bipolar Opposite Basketball School. The gents have offense to burn, while defense and paint play are the items to watch in 2011-12.
With that in mind, the boys showed some glimpses of their trademark offensive flash and worked on quick passes to the paint in a 69-56 victory in the nightcap against the Wildcats.
“We’re playing fast basketball. We’re getting up. We’re up-tempo, getting after people,” Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns said. “Now we’ve just got to learn to execute inside of it. That’s what we’re trying to do – in the half-court in the full-court, whatever it is. We’re trying to be patient and execute.”
So Thursday’s game was drew a ho-hum reaction in postgame, which is fine for game No. 4 of the season – the Saints are 2-2.
Fernando Hernandez, who is Nando at Vail Christian, pulled out a SportsCenter-worthy behind-the-back pass to Robby Bowles, who obliged with the lay-in, with 6:21 left in the first quarter.
“That was nice,” Kuhns said. “It was pretty.”
“I just saw an open teammate,” Hernandez said. “The defenders were coming at me, so I just gave a little finesse to it.”
The key here was that Bowles converted there. The Saints got good passes into the paint, but either didn’t connect on the dish or missed some golden opportunities from inside.
Since the Saints were up by as much as 21 on North Park Thursday, that didn’t hurt. Against the bigger-sized teams in the 2A Slope, those misses along with free throws will be key.
“I think it’s getting us prepared for future teams, tougher teams down the road,” Hernandez said. “Those zone offenses are really helpful because they’re hard to get into the paint, but once we get in, it’s kind of an inside-out game. We’ve got good shooters like Gunnar (Wilson), Nigel (Johnsen) and Robby. That’s good.”
While North Park is a league opponent, Thursday’s games were not the league tilts for Saints. Those come in Walden on Feb. 2. Both sets of Saints have their league game against Rangely Saturday at 3:30 and 5 p.m. in Edwards.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vail Christian hoops
Saints girls 35, North Park 32
Leading scorers: Ashlyn Gruber 17, McKenzie O’Brien 13.
Saints boys 69, North Park 56
Leading scorers: Fernando Hernandez 17, Robby Bowles 14, Gunnar Wilson 8, Kevin Boselli 6, Zach Linder 6.