Vail Christian sweeps away North Park
EDWARDS – After Vail Christian’s Robby Bowles missed a 3-pointer Thursday, he turned to his team’s bench and apologized.
The message from coach Sheldon Kuhns and company was essentially, “Keep shooting, Robby.”
“Size isn’t our strength,” Kuhns said. “So we want to spread people out. If it’s an open jump shot, it goes up, especially for Robby. Fernando (Hernandez)’s also got the green light. We can’t go into a 6-6 guy, so we’re going to let them go.”
“It feels super-smooth. You know when it’s going to go in,” Bowles said. “But if it doesn’t, you feel stupid.”
Bowles looked smart and kept shooting with six treys on his way to a career-high 24 points, while Hernandez did his thing at point guard for 14 of his own as the Saints cruised to a 79-46 win over North Park Thursday in Edwards.
The win evened the Saints up at 2-2 on the year. While it’s hard to figure out how Vail Christian will look at the end of the season, one thing’s for sure – Saints boys basketball will not be dull.
Kuhns’ crew is young – Teller Emmer was the on senior on the floor for Vail Christian – and will be playing uptempo. The $64,000 question for the Saints will be finding that line between a hustling, high-pressure and frenzy-dom.
“We want to be on that edge,” the coach said. “Where we have to get better is not falling off that edge into frenzy-dom, if that’s a word.”
It is now. Let the Vail Christian English department take note.
This style suits the Saints players fine, thank you.
“We have a a lot of fast kids out there, so that’s what works best for us,” said Gunnar Wilson, who had a career-best 13 points against the Wildcats. “The more chances we get, the more possessions we can score.”
It’s definitely a change of pace for the Saints, who have been more of a post-oriented team in years past. With Hernandez, a junior, at the controls, it looked pretty good at times Thursday. The Saints rolled out to an early 9-2 lead. With 3s from both Bowles and Hernandez, Vail Christian led 17-6 at the end of one.
Bowles kept shooting. The pressure defense also reaped its rewards with Bowles and Emmer coming up with steals and easy lay-ins. Emmer finished with 12 points.
With a 36-15 advantage at the half, Kuhns substituted liberally, getting a look at everyone up and down his bench.
Girls win No. 4
Vail Christian girls basketball dispatched North Park, 37-28, Thursday night in the lidlifter. There was never much of a doubt, and there wasn’t much celebrating either.
The Saints are 4-1 – their best start since 2003 – but nobody’s ripping down any nets yet.
“Last year we won eight games, and this year we’re halfway there.” Saints junior Ashlyn Gruber said. “It’s a new feeling, a good feeling. It’s something we haven’t experienced.”
Simply put, the Saints see themselves winning more than eight this year, so the talk after Thursday’s game was more about what the Saints can do better – rebounding and turnovers.
“The good thing is that neither myself or any of the girls think that we’ve played great yet,” Saints coach Doug Bruce said. “This is going to be a good team by the time the season really gets going.”
The coach felt that the Saints gave the visiting Wildcats too many extra chances on the offensive boards. He does see the turnover numbers coming down as Vail Christian gets used to a faster-paced game. Bruce sees this team better better when Alexis Ellsworth is good-to-go, likely after the holidays, after an appendectomy. The Saints are also looking to add a few more pieces to the puzzle.
Again, Vail Christian won, and this was the talk, which is definitely new when it comes to Saints girls basketball.
Up 16-13 at the half, the Saints blew the game open with a 14-3 third quarter. Kylie Alexander started to heat up with two jumpers. Gruber got to the baseline for her favorite shot. Birthday girl Dakota Francis chipped in a 3-point play, and the Saints were on their way.
Gruber led Vail Christian with 15 points, while Alexander had 11.
Both Saints teams head to Rangely Saturday for their respective league openers.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.
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