Vail Christian boys basketball rolls over South Park 57-10 |

Vail Christian boys basketball rolls over South Park 57-10

Saints will bring four-game winning streak into key upcoming league contests

Vail Christian is 7-2 after winning its fourth-straight game on Thursday night, a 57-10 victory over South Park.
Vail Christian/Courtesy photo

Coach Sheldon Kuhns has seen a lot of basketball games played on the Vail Christian court now bearing his name. One thing he can’t recall is holding a team to 10 points.

The Saints did just that on Thursday night, rolling over South Park 57-10. After jumping out to a 17-1 lead, the home team never looked back, moving to 7-2 with the win and moving into a tie for the top spot in the 2A/1A Western Slope standings at 3-0.

“We’re not young, but we definitely graduated a lot, and we are improving every game, especially on the defensive end,” Kuhns said. “Guys have really buckled down defensively, so it’s been fun to see.”

The lopsided score wasn’t the product of a full-court press and easy transition layups, though.

“We were just not letting them score and then executing on the offensive end,” said Kuhns who, in losing eight speedy seniors from last year’s team, reoriented the Saint’s defensive identity. Instead of feasting on opponents with the occasional full-court trap, the 2023 squad is more focused on fundamental, man-to-man half-court defense. Andre Skweir, who was injured last year but rushed back to play football this fall, has been a key catalyst in that regard.

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“When he started basketball, he wasn’t moving great, but I would say the last two weeks, he’s started to look like a healthy Andre,” Kuhns said of Skweir, who had seven points and led the team in rebounds on Thursday.

“That’s really one of the things helping us out defensively.”

Jack Pryor has also filled in for the injured big man Philip Shchetinin, whom the Saints expect to return to the lineup soon.

“He’s playing really well defensively and rebounding the ball for us,” Kuhns said. “We’re definitely becoming more of a complete package on both ends of the floor.”

The growth for the squad has manifested itself in a balanced offensive attack, too. While leading scorer Quinn Downey, who entered the game averaging 23 points per game, still led the team with 14 against South Park, the Saints also received 11 from both Will Neumann and Theo Moritz.

“(Quinn) is our go-to-guy, but we’re becoming more balanced,” Kuhns said, acknowledging that both Neumann and Moritz have emerged as reliable No. 2 options on any given night.

Another highlight from Thursday: Kuhns wasn’t the only Vail Christian coaching legend in the building.

“It was good to have Doug Bruce back in the house,” Kuhns said of his former assistant and the Lady Saints coach for many years.

“He’s one of my coaching mentors for sure.”

Saints ready for key league games against Plateau Valley and Vail Mountain School

Kuhns said the team isn’t overlooking anyone on the schedule, meaning their next focuses will be West Grand (0-9) on Saturday and Clear Creek (4-5) on Thursday. As far as league play goes, however, two key games loom in the near future, starting with No. 10-ranked Plateau Valley.

“It’s a game at a time, but there’s no doubt coming up, the Plateau Valley game — they’re really good, playing really well,” the coach stated. “They’re big, physical and they have a couple of good guards to go along with that.”

Guard Ethan Morse is dropping 14.3 points per game and 6-foot-3 forward Jackson Bevan is averaging 11.7 points and 8.4 rebounds per contest for the Cowboys. A week after playing the Plateau Valley, the Saints have another critical test on Feb. 7 against Vail Mountain School (4-4 overall, 2-0 league).

“Vail Mountain is much better than their record suggests,” Kuhns stated. “I expect that to be a good game as well.”

Though his team sits just outside the top 10 of the coaches poll, Kuhns is pleased with where his squad sits in another metric: strength of schedule. Coming into the new year, the Saints’ opponents’ win percentage was over .700. Even after recent games against sub-.500 teams, Vail Christian is still seventh in the state in terms of schedule toughness (.580).

“So we feel like we’ve had a good schedule and we’ve been pretty battle-tested, too,” he said. “We’re happy with where we’re at so far and we’re definitely improving.”

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