Vail Christian falls in opener on Front Range
Saints at Moffat Friday
Welcome to The Show, gents. How do you respond?
Vail Christian boys basketball was on the wrong end of a 19-0 run from late in the second quarter until deep into the third during its 61-48 loss at Denver Jewish Day School in the first competition of Season B for an Eagle County high school.
And thus, “How do you respond,” is the question on which the young Saints will dwell before Friday night’s game at Moffat County at 6 p.m.
“I like our depth. I like our athleticism. I liked our full-court pressure at the end of the game …,” coach Sheldon Kuhns said. “I liked what we did individually. But we didn’t click or gel. We got lost on offense or defense as a group and that’s where we’ve got to play more games.”
While coach Kuhns has made historical precedence out of not using youth as an excuse — please remember the 2016-17 season — the fact remains that only two of the Saints on the roster saw significant varsity time last year — Connor Downey and Jesse Gonzalez.
So when Leo Rothenberg got the steal and the lay-in to close the host Tigers’ lead to 24-22, it looked like a ball game, except that Denver Jewish Day School 26 of the next 28 points, including the aforementioned 19-0 burst.
Candidly, the Saints had problems guarding the Tigers’ Jonathan Kovachi, who just went off. Vail Christian also had issues on the glass and went into a scoring coma for about eight minutes of playing time which just can’t happen.
“That’s where, I think, an experienced player says, ’My team needs a bucket,’” Kuhns said. “That’s where we go to Alec or Seb(astian Moritz) or all the guys in the past. We have the guys to do it now. It’s just their turn.”
Vail Christian did rally for 22 points in the final stanza as Kuhns was substituting regularly throughout the game to see his players in varsity action as well as making sure everyone was fresh while getting used to wearing masks while playing because of everyone’s favorite global pandemic.
And since it’s already been invoked, Vail Christian did experience a substantial turnover from graduation going into the 2016-17 season and played with no seniors, six juniors and a bunch of underclassmen. Those Saints started a seemingly hopeless 0-5 — and the first four really weren’t close — before finishing 8-12. By February, the kids had grown up and the stage was set for three straight years of the playoffs.
Past performance doesn’t guarantee future results, but that is probably not far from Kuhns’ mind.
While the boys are off until Friday when they travel to scenic Craig, the Vail Christian ladies open the season on Thursday with a nonleague tilt against Hayden at 6 p.m. in Edwards.