The best of the best: The 2021 Freud Five |

The best of the best: The 2021 Freud Five

There are actually 14 on the team

Battle Mountain's Gabriela Caballero is one of the few easy selections as a member of the Freud Five. Averaging 18.6 points per game is very helpful in making our postseason fantasy team. (Daily file photo)

So how does one fit basketball players from four different schools — seven teams in total — into five spots of an Eagle County fantasy basketball team?

You don’t. It doesn’t work. I’ve been trying for 10 years. As a liberal arts major, four schools or seven teams don’t divide into five.

But it’s fun to try to get everyone on one team, so we remind you that the first rule of the Freud Five is that there’s always more than five. The second rule is that one’s position on the court is completely irrelevant.

Without further ado, the 2021 Freud Five (or eight or 12).

Point guard

Gabby Caballero, Battle Mountain

No kidding, Sherlock. It wasn’t just the 41 points against Summit, although that couldn’t have hurt. It’s Caballero’s 18.6 points per game. We always knew she could go off on any given night. Caballero developed consistency this season, even though everyone and their sister knew she was coming.

While the game log is incomplete, Battle Mountain’s Gabby Caballero was still the model of consistency in 2021. (Screen grab,

Caballero also lifted the quality of her team, drawing double-teams and dishing off to her teammates, creating offense. Basketball season left everyone wanting more … basketball. This certainly applies to Caballero who was magnificent in 2021. Gabby is the 4A Slope Player of the Year as well as the unofficial Freud Five Player of the Year.

Shooting guard

Alden Pennington, Battle Mountain, and Leo Rothenberg, Vail Christian

If we have Gabby, we’ve got to have Pennington, simple as that. Yes, Pennington got stereotyped as the Robin to Caballero’s Batman, which is not fair to Alden. It wasn’t just Caballero. When both were going, the Huskies rolled. Heck, Pennington was hitting buzzer beaters from Wolcott against Palisade.

And Miss Pennington was right on the money when she said Kansas, where she’ll matriculate in the fall, wouldn’t go far in the NCAA tourney either. Send us a postcard from Lawrence next year, Alden.

Battle Mountain's Alden Pennington gives the Freud Five one heck of a back court. We’d ride any day with Pennington, Caballero and, yes, Vail Christian’s Leo Rothenberg on the perimeter. (Daily file photo)

Leo Rothenberg is on this team for two reasons. First of all he’s a smart Alec, which surprisingly helps. Let’s see, a shooting guard from Vail Christian with a bit of a mouth on him — Robbie Bowles, Gunnar Wilson, Sebastian and Alex Moritz. Completely unprecedented.

After two comatose offensive outings to start the season, Vail Christian unloaded on Rangely, 63-35, and Rothenberg had 21 points in the process. During a timeout of said game, Rothenberg blurted out something to the extent, “Let Freud write about that offense.” Leo, you get points for attitude as shooting guards have to be cocky. (You ain’t going to be on every day, but you have to have a certain arrogance to keep shooting.)

Your job, Mr. Rothenberg, and this applies to the entire Vail Christian team for 2021-22, is to back up this selection. This is going to be a theme we are going to beat into the ground. The Saints have tremendous potential, but need to spend the next year realizing it. So welcome to the Freud Five, Leo. Here’s hoping you’re on this team with your teammates next season.

Small forward

Grace McCurdy, Vail Christian

All Grace McCurdy does is score the basketball and rebound the basketball. While Freud is still wondering how “scoring the basketball,” became an expression — one simply scores, right? — McCurdy’s been a stud for what seems like around 10 years.

Brief pause: There are athletes who jump right to varsity and play multiple seasons in multiple sports, so some athletes just seem like they should be in graduate school rather than a senior going off to college. Miss McCurdy is one those athletes between volleyball and basketball. She’s got to be 24 by now, right?

In all seriousness, just like Caballero — or, maybe, Caballero was being like McCurdy — Grace figured out how to bring it every night, averaging 16.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Seniors McCurdy and Zoey Barela led the Saints all season long, helping Vail Christian to a 5-5 record.

Power forward

Cole Pattison, Vail Mountain

Rough start to the season. Good finish … in both basketball and skiing. Yes, he did that last year, but it’s still fun to see both the Pattison boys (MacKay, as well) ski and play basketball in the same week. Still awesome.

We really don’t advise doing a karate chop along the baseline, but Vail Mountain’s Cole Pattison makes it work. VMS is well-represented this year on the Freud Five or Freud Fourteen. (Daily file photo)

Cole came on when it counted — six straight games of double-digit points — in a two-week stretch during the-smash-in-as-many-games-as-possible portion of the season.

The interesting question is whether Cole is on this team next year. If he is, VMS basketball is transitioning to a new era.


Devin Yarde, Becker Dienst, MacKay Pattison, Liam Mattison and Max Marston, Vail Mountain

Yarde is in position properly. The numbers aren’t super-duper, but Yarde is just one of those players who does everything correctly and makes his impact felt in small ways that add up to big things eventually. Talk to coach Caleb Florence and he just raves about Yarde.

This is also a salute to Devin and the VMS basketball Class of 2021. (Becker Dienst at center? I’d like to see that.) You guys made basketball a sport at the Vail Mountain School with the run at districts last year and following it up this year with a second straight postseason appearance.

There’s a basketball banner, along side soccer, skiing, lacrosse and volleyball, in the VMS gym. You guys put it there.


Jim Schuppler, Battle Mountain

Vail Mountain’s Florence won the 2A Slope’s Coach of the Year, but the Freud Five is ahead of its time. We had Florence coaching this team last year. We’re going to let Battle Mountain girls basketball’s Jim Schuppler take the wheel. He certainly has earned his stripes this season between football and girls basketball.

On the girls basketball front, Schuppler righted the ship from last season, when the team just under-performed. It’s not just that, though. Schuppler is bringing purpose to the program that’s been missing for too long. It’s been OK for Battle Mountain girls basketball to be bad (2019 and 2021 excepted). It’s never going to be OK with Shoop.

We also acknowledge Vail Christian’s Sheldon Kuhns with an excellent job with a young team in Edwards. Kuhns will serve as the Freud Five’s athletic trainer and be kicked out during the team’s first game. (Most bizarre moment of the season right there, people. I nearly got kicked out of the Meeker game as well … for talking to Ethan Kuhns, Sheldon’s son who was back from Grand Canyon University, visiting his family.)

Other roles

• Sixth man, Quinn Downey, Vail Christian: OK, he was coming off the bench because of contact tracing, but he did make the most of it, providing great minutes and points. This Downey — and it’s hard to keep track of them — should see more playing time next year.

• Defensive specialist, Vinny Nowicki, Vail Christian: The most terrifying thing about Vinny Nowicki, Jeffrey Hall and Theo Moritz all being out for the Vail Mountain game (contact tracing) was that Nowicki gets the other team’s best offensive player every night.

• Just because, Carlos Sanchez, Eagle Valley: He’s just fun to watch. Yes, we have at least three point guards on this team, but that’s Eagle County basketball.

The next five

This is the way-too-early Freud Five for 2021-22. Consider this a list of players/teams to watch.

• Connor Downey, Vail Christian … When Vail Christian beat Vail Mountain in what was one of the best games of the year, Downey led the Saints with 19 points, which is kind of interesting given that the Gore Rangers had the edge in the paint. Yes, he was helped by 6 first-half 3s, which will open the inside a bit.

Can Downey, who averaged 8.8 ppg, bump that to 10 per game next year with some rebounding? That would be fantastic for Vail Christian.

• Nikko Von Stralendorff, Eagle Valley: A nice surprise as an honorable-mention selection, Von Stralendorff had as much of a breakout year as one can in a shortened season. Eagle Valley will still be good with the perimeter game next year and, just like Vail Christian, needs the guy in the paint. That’s you, Nikko.

• All of Eagle Valley boys basketball … I had higher expectations for the Devils this year. It didn’t happen. A good portion of this was COVID shutting down the team for two weeks. But two seasons into the 2020-21 school year, we’ve had two Eagle Valley boys teams returning a lot of talent that did not perform well. (Football as well.)

Again, we get it, COVID. But when COVID fades — everyone think good thoughts — there’s going to be something else in 2021-22 and beyond. Devils basketball still will have a good group returning — Branden Vigil, Bryan Martinez and NVS (I only can cut and paste so many times) — let’s see it.

• All of Vail Christian boys basketball …First of all, fellas, when Sean Boselli’s pop gets the gate, try not to give him a standing ovation. Funniest moment of the season, but don’t do that again. Note to the Saints: When your coach starts to turn purple, he’s not happy. Second, I’m just so proud I didn’t call Sean Kevin all year.

OK, third, and the real point, the Saints had a terrific season, going 8-5 overall, making the state playoffs and competing within the 2A Slope with a 7-1 record. This summer is the next step. You all have to get bigger and better. Get to work.

• Cole Pattison and Beck Sapp, Vail Mountain … Yarde, MacKay Pattison and Dienst are graduating. It’s your team now, Cole and Beck. Let’s keep basketball rolling in East Vail.

  • Class 4A
  • Western Slope
  • Boys
  • All-league
  • Bryan Martinez, Eagle Valley
  • Honorable mention
  • Nikko Von Stralendorff, Eagle Valley
  • Tanner Roberts, Battle Mountain
  • Girls
  • Player of the Year
  • Gabby Caballero, Battle Mountain
  • All-league
  • Gabby Caballero, Battle Mountain
  • Alden Pennington, Battle Mountain
  • Anna Gill, Eagle Valley
  • Honorable mention
  • Sieairra Rivera, Eagle Valley
  • Gianna Carroll, Battle Mountain
  • Class 2A
  • Boys
  • Western Slope
  • Coach of the year
  • Caleb Florence, Vail Mountain
  • Senior Player of the Year
  • Devin Yarde, Vail Mountain
  • All-league
  • Becker Dienst, Vail Mountain
  • Vinny Nowicki, Vail Christian
  • Leo Rothenberg, Vail Christian
  • Devin Yarde, Vail Mountain
  • Honorable mention
  • Sean Boselli, Vail Christian
  • Connor Downey, Vail Christian
  • Jesse Gonzales, Vail Christian
  • Cole Pattison, Vail Mountain
  • Girls
  • All-league
  • Zoey Barela, Vail Christian
  • Grace McCurdy, Vail Christian


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