Vail Christian basketball falls to DeBeque, 64-60 | VailDaily.com

Vail Christian basketball falls to DeBeque, 64-60

Vail Christian's Alec Moritz charges to the basket against DeBeque during a 64-60 loss to the Dragons on Saturday in Edwards. Mortiz had 23 points for the Saints.
Mort Mulliken | Special to the Daily

EDWARDS — There will be a lot of couldas, wouldas and shouldas after DeBeque boys’ basketball’s 64-60 win over Vail Christian on Saturday at the Wheeler Athletic Center in Edwards.

But before the breakdown, just give it up for the Dragons’ Brennan Rigsby. He’s the reason DeBeque left town with sole possession of first place.

“What did he end with?” Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns asked.

That would be 31 points.

“And a lot of those were difficult shots from deep,” the coach said. “He played a heck of a game. Ultimately, it came down to who made more shots. They made more shots that we did.”

And with DeBeque’s Wes Ryan (22 points) as Robin to Rigsby’s Batman, the Dragons handed Vail Christian’s first league loss.

Rigsby heated up during the second quarter, in which the Dragons outscored the Saints 17-10. During that period, Vail Christian appeared unsettled in a game that became physical — the refs let it go on both sides, particularly in the paint.

“We let the game get away from us in the second quarter,” Kuhns said. “We got rattled a little bit. There was the rebounding. There were the turnovers and the missed shots. We got rattled. Ultimately, that last play of the first half may have been the play we couldn’t overcome.”

With 3 seconds left in the half, the Saints (8-5 overall and 5-1 in the 2A Slope) had an inbounds pass. The Dragons knew it was going to Alec Moritz, likely the Saints’ best threat from downtown, for a final shot. Rigsby promptly jumped the pass for the steal and fired up a 3-pointer, for what could have been a six-point swing.

Down 36-23 at the half, Vail Christian did just about everything but even the game. With DeBeque crowding the area around the paint to slow down Vail Christian’s pass-and-cut offense, the Saints shot over the defense as Moritz finished with 23 and Zack McKeever lit it up from behind the arc for 17.

The visiting Dragons also wisely slowed the pace of the game down during the second half. The Saints answered that challenge with defensive stops. By the beginning of the fourth quarter, an E.J. Koller 3 and a Moritz layup got the Saints within 46-44 with 6:52 left in the game.

Yet poor free-throw shooting (4-for-12) and misses on good looks at the basket stalled that momentum in the final minutes.

The funny thing about Saturday’s game is that the Dragons and Saints won’t see each other again, as DeBeque (14-0, 7-0) drops down to Class 1A for the state playoffs, while Vail Christian is in the running the 2A tournament.

“(DeBeque) coach (Rod Graham) and I joked, ‘It’s good we don’t see each other again,’” Kuhns said. “That was a fantastic game.”

Dragons win lidlifter

In the first game of the twinbill, DeBeque girls’ basketball came away with a 52-29 win over Vail Christian.

Faith Novas led the Dragons (11-3, 5-2) with 12 points. Abby Kuhns topped Vail Christian (6-7, 2-4) with 19.

Vail Christian’s girls head to Summit County on Monday, while the boys are at the Vail Mountain School on Tuesday.