Vail Christian defense key to its 37-26 win
EDWARDS ” And now introducing the Doug Bruce Theory of 40 at Vail Christian.
When the Saints girls basketball team holds its opponent to fewer than 40 points, they will win. The Vail Christian coach has been preaching it all season.
After a Tuesday’s 37-26 nonconference win against Nederland, coach and players alike were talking about how a heightened defensive effort helped pave the way.
“I thought the difference in this game was that after the first quarter we played much better defense,” Bruce said. “We rebounded better, didn’t give them as many opportunities to score. I felt like we were going to get some points in this game.”
The Saints gave up 12 points in the first eight minutes and 14 the rest of the way.
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“I think at the beginning we were really tired and playing slowly,” senior Allie Parker said. “But we all picked it up and started talking, and Sammy (Francis)’s leadership helped a lot, too ” everybody understanding where they need to be.”
The Saints are 6-2 this season in games which they allow fewer than 40 points. The exceptions to the Bruce Theory were a 39-23 decision at 3A Aspen and a 24-17 loss to Denver Lutheran. In the latter case, we will add a corollary to the Bruce Theory which is “Please score more than 17 points, ladies.”
The Saints provided plenty of offense Tuesday and it was balanced. Michelle Disher and Allie Parker were Vail Christian’s leading scorers with six points each. Mackenzie O’Brien added five and Alex Ellsworth had four points, while numerous other Saints had field goals or free throws.
The Saints offense got going thanks to some of its better passing of the season. Not only did that help Vail Christian break the Panthers’ press ” the Saints’ bane all season ” but it set up some nice scores within the half-court offense.
“We had a little slow start against the press again and then I think we got ourselves settled. We handled the ball better,” Bruce said. “To be honest, this team doesn’t put as much pressure on you as (league foes)Hayden or Paonia does. But we have to take baby steps where we can.”
Down 14-12 in the second quarter, O’Brien drilled an 18-footer with 4:22 left in the half. Tracy Salgado followed with a layup a minute later, and Vail Christian never trailed again.
Parker drove to the hole for an easy bucket late in the third and Francis knocked down two free throws for a 23-20 lead, going into the final period. From there, Vail Christian seemed to take another step by slowly building on their advantage. Once Maty Peckham and Disher hit outside jumpers midway through the final period, the Saints went into their spread-slowdown offense, forcing Nederland to foul.
With the Panthers in the double bonus, Vail Christian went 7-for-14 from the line and that was the ball game.
With the regular season finale at Soroco Saturday and the upcoming district tournament on the road, seniors Disher, Francis, Parker and Peckham all wore pick socks for their final home game.
As for the coach wearing pink socks any time soon, don’t count on it.
“No, sir,” Bruce said. “The girls know I’m way to old and conservative for that.”
So much for the Bruce Theory of Pink Socks.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.