Vail Christian basketball sweeps past Hayden
EDWARDS — Vail Christian girls basketball fell behind early, scored only two field goals in a 10-minute stretch and committed a myriad of turnovers on Friday, Jan. 12, against Hayden during the first half.
And the Saints won, 54-40.
This is definitely different territory for Vail Christian (9-0 overall and 3-0 in the 2A Western Slope).
“The one thing that is constant in our world is defense,” Saints coach Doug Bruce said. “We work hard on the defensive end. We need to be a little bit better on our rebounding, but, at halftime, in the locker room, I was happy. We only allowed them 17 points. This year, the thing that can cover up our sins is a player like Brokelyn Kraft. Our team is capable of scoring points.”
The Saints were down 5-0 early, but that’s not a cause for panic. Vail Christian threw down a 12-point burst in roughly 90 seconds during the first quarter with beautiful passing from Sarah Heredia, among others, some key rebounding by Barbara O’Brien and Grace McCurdy and the offensive skills of Jesse Raitt and Brokelyn Kraft.
The Saints’ offense went silent for most of the second quarter, allowing the Tigers (2-9, 0-3) to tie it 16. Vail Christian had another quick offensive run behind Abby Kuhns, Heredia (3-pointer) and Mari Engleby for 23-17 halftime lead.
The Saints finally shook off Hayden because they’ve got legitimate 3-point shooting, great ball movement and can play tough defense. They did that all during the third quarter.
Raitt got going with nine points in eight minutes on layups and baseline jumpers. Kraft, the dimension about whom Bruce talked, popped two huge 3s, and Heredia, who makes this offense lethal, finished the run with a sweet pass to Raitt as the Saints led 43-29 going into the fourth quarter.
“They scored easily in the early part of the season,” Bruce said. “The defenses are going to get better. We can’t get discouraged with the offense if it doesn’t come immediately. We have to have confidence in our offensive game. It’s the difference between now and teams we’ve had in the past.”
Raitt finished with 18 points, while Kraft had 15 (all from beyond the arc). Barbara O’Brien chipped in eight and Heredia seven.
Boys cruise past Tigers
For years, the Vail Christian boys basketball team couldn’t beat Hayden. These days, it doesn’t look like the Saints will stop beating the Tigers.
Vail Christian knocked off Hayden, 79-45, on Friday night for the seventh straight time, dating back to 2014, after spending the previous 15 years losing to the Tigers, including the infamous “Can we get Will Parker a nose guard?” game.
In truth, Vail Christian, 8-1 and 4-0, should be winning these games. The Saints are in what could be charitably called the underbelly of their 2A Slope slate. While Vail Christian must approach every game viewing the opponent as the Golden State Warriors, the test starts Saturday, Jan. 20, at Meeker. With those Cowboys, as well as games against Paonia, DeBeque, Rangely and Hotchkiss, the Saints will find how they really stack up in the world of 2A basketball.
The only real drama to this one was the halftime 3-point shooting contest. Congratulations to Saints freshman Andreas Ascencio and senior Caleb Sharpe. They won goodies from the bake sale.
The Saints in the actual uniforms jumped out to an 18-4 first-quarter leads with one of those “you blink and they’ve scored 10 points” runs. By the half, Vail Christian was clinging to a 50-13 lead.
In fairness, if the Saints want to be one of the better teams in a tough league, then they should throttle lesser squads. It’s also nice to have a laugher as the first part of back-to-back games.
“I think we played fantastic,” Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns said. “Defensively, we’re where we want to be. Our defense in the first half, limiting them to 13 points, we didn’t give up any cheap buckets. Defense isn’t done until we get the clean rebound. I think we did a good job of that tonight.”
In limited action, Sebastian Moritz had 17 points and Bryan Trujillo 15. Vail Christian had four in double digits with Ethan Kuhns and Alec Moritz both totaling 10.
Both Saints teams continue league play at Plateau Valley on Saturday, Jan. 13.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.