Vail Christian boys wrap up consecutive Gore titles
DEBEQUE — Vail Christian basketball made history in many ways on Saturday.
The boys won their second straight league title. The ladies set a new school record for wins in a season. And both teams doubtless had the longest ride back from DeBeque ever, thanks to the continued closure of Glenwood Canyon.
Put up another banner
The Vail Christian boys basketball team is the Gore League champion for the second year running after beating DeBeque, 67-35, on Saturday.
Now the truth can be told. Even Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns, at least early on, didn’t think his not-young team — ostensibly two seniors and six sophomores — could repeat.
“I told them in the middle of the season that they changed my mind,” Kuhns said. “This team did more than I thought they could initially. Yeah, at first, I thought we could be in the mix, but I didn’t think we could win the league title.”
The no-longer young Saints, since they’ve played 19 games, are 14-5 and edged out Soroco — both teams finished 9-1 in the Gore — on the tie breaker of point differential in games played between the two teams. While it was controversial in January to slow down in the pace of play toward the end of a loss at Soroco, Kuhns’ decision is looking pretty smart in February.
More important than that technicality, the Saints have played good ball since a bit of rough start in December, and it was the same story on Saturday.
Vail Christian sat senior Alex Davis (ankle sprain) against the Dragons, so Joseph Emmer got his first varsity start. Young Emmer, who is only young in comparison to his older brother Teller, played well and the Saints rolled.
Logan Raitt and Sebastian Moritz both had 15 points each for the Saints. Raitt had 10 rebounds as well. Ethan Kuhns just missed a double-double with 10 points and nine boards.
“It was interesting vibe after the game,” Sheldon Kuhns said. “They were excited to win the league, but they still know there’s more work to do.”
New school mark for girls
The Vail Christian ladies finished the regular season with a 14-4 record with a 78-15 win at DeBeque, and that’s a new best for the program.
Last year’s girls held the previous mark at 13-9.
All the Saints have done this year is win 10 in row since starting the season 4-4. Vail Christian avenged both of its league losses to West Grand and Soroco with second-half wins, and they’re doing it with equal parts offense and defense.
The Saints were clinging to a 38-9 lead over DeBeque when coach Beth Raitt sat her starters at the half. The bench, led by Sarah Heredia, didn’t skip a beat.
Marti Schmidt topped the Saints with 14 points while Jessie Raitt had 13.
“J.R. and Marti were playing like John Stockton and Karl Malone,” Beth Raitt said. “It was super fun to watch them feed each other.”
For the age-challenged Saints, Stockton and Malone were teammates for the Utah Jazz who terrorized the NBA in the 1980s and 90s. Google them, kids.
Vail Christian’s teams host a playoff doubleheader on Tuesday in Edwards. The girls have Rangely at 5 p.m., followed by the boys against either Rangeley or the Vail Mountain School at 6:30 p.m. (Vail Mountain School plays at Rangely on Monday to decide that.)
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.