Vail Mountain basketball downs Soroco for a happy Senior Night |

Vail Mountain basketball downs Soroco for a happy Senior Night

Yep, the juniors starred

Trust us, they’re smiling underneath those masks. Vail Mountain School basketball’s seniors strike the traditional pose after a 61-43 Senior Night win over Soroco Friday night. (Chris Freud

It’s an unwritten rule of Senior Night/Day — the juniors steal the show, be it fall, winter or spring regardless of the school or sport.

Thus, it was not surprising that juniors Cole Pattison and Nick Kirwood led Vail Mountain School basketball on an 18-0 run during the second quarter on its way to a 61-43 Senior Night victory over Soroco on a Friday night in East Vail keeping the Gore Rangers’ hopes of a 2A Slope title alive.

“After last year’s performance, winning districts, and only graduating one senior, I knew we were going to be a strong team,” VMS senior MacKay Pattison said. “There was no doubt in my mind we were going to be good.”

It doesn’t hurt to have a brother either. Cole Pattison threw down two rain-making dunks that brought roars from the faithful and Kirwood got in two 3s as VMS broke open a 12-8 game with an 18-0 stretch during the first 7:33 of the second quarter.

“Definitely before last year, no one wanted to play basketball here,” senior Devin Yarde said. “Once we won districts, it’s been a blast ever since. The whole school won a title and right now we’e looking for another.”

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After slow start due to the senior ceremonies — remember that Vail Mountain soccer had no Senior Day this fall and usually VMS basketball has a soccer contingent that would have participated for experience’s sake — VMS looked very much like a title contender.

MacKay Pattison started the surge with a nifty jumper and then Cole made it a Pattison special with his imitation of Darryl Dawkins. Pattison didn’t break the backboard, but it was thunderous.

A Rams timeout did nothing to stop the momentum. Kirwood drained two 3s for a 22-8 lead. By the way, dunking inside and 3s outside within a 3-minute period is a pretty effective way of breaking down a defense.

As if to emphasize the point, Pattison (Cole) dunked again with 3:47 left in the half. Senior Liam Mattison got in the act with a swish and pointed to an approving VMS bench.

Field goals from Kirwood and Pattison finished the run and the Gore Rangers led, 30-10, at the intermission.

To the Class of 2021

Simply put, Vail Mountain’s five seniors have put their program on the map. Previously a second-division squad in the 2A Slope, the Gore Rangers have emerged during the last two seasons.

Last year, VMS played .500 ball during the regular season before going on an epic run in the district tournament, upsetting Paonia, Vail Christian and Meeker for the title, the first in the program’s history.

This year, they’re playing for a league crown, so bravo to Becker Dienst, Max Marston, MacKay Pattison, Yarde and Mattison.

“I’ve been their math teacher and their lacrosse coach before basketball,” Gore Rangers coach Caleb Florence said. “I’m just really proud of them. They mean a lot to me. They are the first senior class to pick up the momentum and run with it and keep the momentum going. I’m even more proud of them off the court.”

Beating Soroco was the last major obstacle for the Gore Rangers to setting up a possible climatic game on Thursday at Vail Christian for the Slope title. The Saints did their part Friday by winning at West Grand.

VMS is at North Park Saturday in a league tilt and must avoid the face plant. The Wildcats are 0-11. VMS should win, but the Gore Rangers need to show up Saturday.

After a nonconference affair with Aspen on Monday, all sites are set on Vail Christian on Thursday night in Edwards.


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