Koller lifts Vail Christian past Basalt
EDWARDS — You can’t stop Vail Christian’s E.J. Koller. You can only hope to contain him.
The Saints senior went off for 21 points, as Vail Christian’s boys knocked off Basalt, 64-42, on Tuesday at the Wheeler Athletic Center in Edwards.
As much as it’s fun to fete Koller for his season-high 22 points, Vail Christian’s master plan is to be offensively threatening all over the floor. Koller’s outburst just gives opposing teams more about which to think when game-planning for the Saints (6-4).
“We have now had four of our five starters lead us in scoring at different points during the season,” Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns said. “That puts tremendous pressure on the defense. E.J. was also an unsung hero with his defense. He locked down (No. 1).”
That would be Basalt’s Trevor Reuss, whom local fans may remember from Basalt-Battle Mountain football last fall.
Zach McKeever had another ho-hum 13-point, 13-rebound night., while Alec Moritz and Jamison Lee each had 11 points.
Against the 3A Longhorns, the 2A Saints saw some height, which is probably a good thing since they’re going on Friday to Hotchkiss, which features 7-footer Jacob Stucker. The good news is that McKeever is listed at 6-foot-4, but is at least 6-foot-8 with his tremendous ’fro.
The girls also got into the win column with 55-34 victory over the Longhorns, spurred by 20 points from Sarah Heredia.
Somewhat in line with the Vail Christian boys, getting Heredia going diversifies the offense for the Saints.
“She’s a great leader,” Saints coach Cynthia Robinson said. “When she struggles, it feels like our energy comes down a little. Basalt played a zone against us and that gave her some open 3s.”
Abby Kuhs had 11 points, while Zoey Barela finished with nine. Grace McCurdy scored “only” six points, but that’s not a measure of her value. As always, the sophomore is really good at the dirty work that makes everything go.
The fun stat from Tuesday night for the Saints’ ladies was 8-for-8 from the line. Despite that fine performance from the charity stripe, Vail Christian will be at the free-throw line at practice before heading to Hotchkiss on Friday.
Devils fall to Demons
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Eagle Valley basketball dropped a pair of league contests at Glenwood Springs on Tuesday night.
The boys fell to the Demons, 69-53, despite 20 points from Jacob Medina and Tony Hernandez’ 11 rebounds.
“Good close game until the end,” Devils coach Justin Brandt said.
Eagle Valley (4-6 overall and 0-3 in the 4A Slope) is looking forward to returning home. The Devils have had just two dates in Gypsum in 10 games, and host Summit County tonight at 5:30 and 7.
“That’ll straighten the arrow, playing at home,” Brandt said. “We’re looking forward to it.”
In the lidlifter, the Demons beat the Devils girls, 48-21.
“Elizabeth Mendoza was a huge spark and kept our energy up throughout the game,” Eagle Valley girls coach Beth Raitt said, pointing out one of the positive aspects of Tuesday’s contest.
Huskies Alpine shines at Aspen
ASPEN — Battle Mountain girls Alpine won the season-opening giant slalom on Friday at Aspen, while the Battle Mountain boys and the Vail Mountain School tied for second behind the hosts.
The Huskies girls edged Aspen, 173-168, led by Gretchen Pavelich, the race’s individual winner, and Berit Frischholz in third.
On the boys’ side, Battle Mountain’s Will Bettenhausen was the fastest on the day, and Vail Mountain’s Shane Cole took third.
In Saturday’s Nordic classic, Vail Mountain took top honors among the local three schools. The Gore Rangers’ Cameron Wolfe won the boys’ race in 17 minutes, 35.1 seconds. VMS’ Emma Blakslee finished third in the girls’ race.
Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley and the Vail Mountain School are at Beaver Creek for GS on Friday and at Minturn’s Maloit Park for freestyle on Saturday.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.