Vail Christian Saints hoops advance to district semifinals
EDWARDS — Vail Christian basketball will play Meeker in the District 5 Tournament semifinals on Friday, Feb. 23, at DeBeque High School.
Vail Christian lost to Meeker during the regular season. The Saints would like some payback.
Of course, there are two games involved on Friday. The Saints ladies face Cowboys at 3 p.m., followed by the gents at 4:30 p.m.
Both Vail Christian teams locked up state-tournament berths with wins on Wednesday, Feb, 21. Five 2A Slope squads make the state field and both sets of Saints are in the final fours of districts.
Vail Christian’s girls set up their date with Meeker by beating Paonia, 44-37, while the guys advanced by topping Plateau Valley, 59-47.
After never beating Paonia before this year, the Saints beat the Eagles twice this season.
“It’s a really good program, really well coached and very organized,” Saints coach Doug Bruce said. “I thought the key was that we played to win and not to lose.”
Jesse Raitt put up 19 points, while Brookelyn Kraft had 11 and Sarah Heredia nine.
Vail Christian (14-6) dropped a 62-41 to Meeker back on Jan. 20.
The Saints were down six at the half and got as close as two before everything fell apart. Vail Christian probably needs a good offensive game to stay with Meeker.
“When you lose to a team, you learn something about a team that helps you the second time,” Bruce said.
The Saints have a score to settle with the entire district semifinal field. The other semifinal is Soroco-Rangely.
Back in January, the Saints boys lost to Meeker, 68-58, a loss which was followed by The Paonia Game, which deserves its capitals as Vail Christian allowed 52 points during the second half.
The Saints (16-4) have won six of their last seven — the only loss to 3A Roaring Fork — by playing better defense and that’s why Vail Christian feels it has a shot against Meeker in meeting No. 2.
Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns literally ticked off the points his team allowed in each of the last seven games as evidence of such.
Bryan Trujillo went off for 18 points against Paonia. Sebastian Moritz had seven points and dropped nine dimes. Alec Moritz had 11 points, while Zach McKeever had 10. Ethan Kuhns swept 10 off the glass.
“It’s not the toughest game, but the first game of the playoffs is the hardest to win,” Sheldon Kuhns said. “You’re advancing or heading completely in the wrong direction. I think that led to our sluggish offensive start. It’s a big relief to move into the winner’s bracket.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.
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