Vail Christian dumps Soroco; earns No. 1 seed
Saints home for Tuesday postseason game
EDWARDS — Welcome to “Jeopardy”: Vail Christian boys basketball.
The topic is “Things you need for the postseason.” Acceptable answers are:
• Who is Zach McKeever taking a charge, and are those the Saints playing defense?
• Who are all those guys like Tommy O’Neil, Hayden Sticksel and Kaleb Williams making contributions?
• Who is the No. 1-seed in next week’s Colorado Class 2A District 5 Tournament?
Vail Christian passed the first test on Friday with a 49-40 victory over Soroco at the Wheeler Athletic Center on Friday night. The Saints finished the regular season 13-6 overall and 10-2 in the 2A Slope. With league-champion DeBeque mercifully moving down to Class 1A for the playoffs, Vail Christian will be the No. 1 seed in the District 5 Tournament.
It’s the first time the Saints have been the No. 1 at districts since the school moved up to Class 2A.
“When you start the season, you set goals,” Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns said. “It starts with winning state, but next is being the No. 1 seed in districts. You want to put yourself in the best position possible.”
Vail Christian will be at home on Tuesday to host the quarterfinals of the tourney against an opponent to be determined. Not that anyone would be scoreboard watching, but it might be the winner of a possible pigtail game of Rangely at Vail Mountain on Monday.
Before everyone gets all set for districts, the Saints needed to dispatch rival Soroco, and they were a little slow to start with the exception of Jamison Lee, who scored the team’s first two. Things were starting to roll late in the first quarter. While Alec Moritz’s 3 ball wasn’t quite on target yet, the junior had one of those “how did he do that steal and layup combinations?” (One would think Moritz got lucky, but we’ve seen him do it before.)
E.J. Koller’s slick pass to McKeever started the second period. McKeever had a great 3, but even more impressive was him taking a charge under the net from Soroco’s Grant Redmond. Meanwhile, Tommy O’Neil was having a solid game, including a 3-point play that had the Saints bench on its feet.
Vail Christian also welcomed back Kiernan Davis and Hayden Sticksel — both coming back from injury. Sticksel got on the scoresheet during the second quarter and both will add to the team’s depth in what it hopes is a long postseason run.
Williams ended the first half with a reverse layup, Moritz hit from Dotsero to start the third quarter, and the Saints were on their way.
And for those scoring at home, the Saints played defense through the rebound, a Kuhns mantra. Vail Christian had a 43-25 lead after 24 minutes before flushing the bench.
“Tonight, we were making defensive adjustments,” Kuhns said. “I can’t remember the last time we won a game when we didn’t shoot well. That’s playoff basketball and we were treated tonight as a playoff game.”
The Saints also celebrated their seniors on Friday night and they are Abby Bossow, Sarah Heredia, Tanner Pierce-Durance, O’Neil, Davis, Alex Hilty, McKeever, Griffin McGuckin, and Koller.