Vail Christian basketball falls at regionals
GRAND JUNCTION — Vail Christian boys basketball’s season came to an end in regionals on Friday night.
Step back — in regionals.
Yes, Mancos used a 19-6 third quarter to top the Saints, 65-54, in the first round of the regional tournament at Grand Junction.
But after years of falling short on “District Friday,” a day shrouded in black, this was Vail Christian’s third year in a row qualifying for regionals, and its first trip as a 2A school.
“In a moment like this, it all comes to an end so quickly,” Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns said. “But if you take a step back, and look at the season we had, and that we were in regionals for third straight year, we couldn’t do that as a 1A team for a decade.”
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The coach should know. He’s been there from the start, and the phrase “District Friday” is probably still banned in his household.
The Saints (14-8) were down just 23-20 at the half, but went cold in the third quarter. The Blue Jays took advantage. To Vail Christian’s credit, the boys did keep battling to the end, closing to within six before Mancos went to the line and sank everything in sight.
Sug Ellsworth wrapped a magnificent basketball career with 29 points and eight rebounds. In sobering thought, the Vail Christian boys basketball team will be without an Ellsworth on the floor — Todd will still be on the sidelines as an assistant coach — until about 2022 when Brady, now 7, takes his turn.
Logan Raitt had eight points and Ethan Pence seven.
Bruins top Lady Saints
Let’s play next week.
Cedaredge waltzed past the Vail Christian girls basketball team last week by a count of 73-41. In the rematch on Friday at regionals in Grand Junction, the Saints put up a much more valiant fight, falling to the Bruins, 45-32.
“We extended out defense so they couldn’t work the perimeter,” Saints coach Beth Raitt said. “We forced them inside, which is not their game. We also slowed their transition.”
Given the improvement against Cedaredge, one would think that Vail Christian could beat the Bruins next week, but that is a season for the Saints who finished 13-8.
The really good news is that is that Senior Night last month was pretty brief. Nobody graduates.
“These girls have a ton of heart and play like a family,” Raitt said. “It’s super fun to coach them. They came to win today, and that says a lot about them.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.
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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.