Vail Christian (15-4) rolls on Senior Night
EDWARDS – OK, be honest. Did you think you’d ever live long enough to see Vail Christian boys basketball go 15-4 during a regular season?”Yes, but I had my doubts for a long time,” said coach Sheldon Kuhns, who has coached the program from its infancy.While greater goals lie ahead – harrumph, the start of the postseason with the district tournament in Olathe next week – the Saints put the finishing touches on the best regular season in school history with a 75-38 win over Plateau Valley on Senior Night at the Wheeler Athletic Center in Edwards Saturday.”We want to be the team, especially for all these young guys who are coming up who are playing very well, to show them it’s possible to get past districts,” senior Kevin Boselli said.The Saints have clearly come a long way from the Jonathan Armstead Hail Mary Pass to beat Ridgway back when they played across the street at St. Clare.”It’s fun,” Kuhns said. “To be a part of it from the beginning and to see the bottom years and to get 15 wins in the regular season, I’m happy for these guys. I’m happy for the program. I’m happy for the school.”While the Vail Christian’s flashy offense was on display in all its splendor, the Saints flashed the element which seems to separate them from the teams of the last few years – defense.Vail Christian did a nice job of getting Plateau Valley’s big man Fernando Enriquez in foul trouble. Enriquez picked up his third foul in the first quarter with Nigel Johnsen taking his second charge of the game.Physical play? Plateau Valley seemed determined to play piata with the Saints’ Gunnar Wilson. He took one in the chops – no foul was called – in the first half. He just changed jerseys and returned to the game. And then he got tossed into the wall on a breakaway layup and kneed a few minutes later – both were called intentional fouls – in the second half for his trouble. (No word on whether Wilson was struck by lightning in the parking lot.)Vail Christian made every Plateau Valley possession a difficult one and pounded the boards on both sides of the court.”What? Did we score 75? I don’t care,” Kuhns said. “Seventy-five points is great, but it could be 45. I love keeping teams under 40. That will get us where we want to go.”- “Coach definitely puts extra emphasis on defense. It really sets off our offense. We’re a really fast team. We got Zach, who’s a speed demon over here,” said Boselli, while standing right next to Zach Linder. “It’s definitely a big part of our game.”Lest anyone think that the Saints are all work and no play, Vail Christian did break the game open with some flash. Johnsen dropped a 3 and Zach Linder hooked up with Wilson for a sweet backdoor layup, giving the Saints a 14-8 lead after one.Robby Bowles hit from downtown and then followed that up with a steal and a lay-in. Sophomore Luke Berger had five in a row of his own with two freebies and a trey. By the time Austin Ellsworth squirted through the lane for a nifty layup and Wilson popped a 3, Vail Christian was off to 36-14 halftime lead.Bowles finished the evening with 20 points. Wilson survived for 16.Ellsworth, Wilson, Johnsen, Tyler Purse, Boselli and Linder are the seniors for the Saints, who will begin district play Friday as the tournament’s No. 1 seed.”It’s kind of tradition right now, not to get through districts.,” Linder joked. “To break that tradition would be a good thing.”Girls lose, 39-30Vail Christian girls basketball put forward a strong effort Saturday evening in a 39-30 loss to Plateau Valley.Seniors Maria Gonzalez, Paris Baker, Kyra Webb and Gracen McGuckin made their final appearances at home for Vail Christian (7-12).Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.