Vail Mountain basketball wins districts
Gore Rangers host regionals
Hell might be freezing over, people.
The Vail Mountain School won a district title in … basketball?
Gore Rangers are proficient in skiing, soccer, volleyball, and even lacrosse, but when did this happen in basketball?
Apparently in the last week is the answer. After intraterm, Vail Mountain reunited, defeated Paonia on the road, upset No. 1-seeded Vail Christian and finished the job on Saturday in DeBeque with a 63-58 overtime win against Meeker.
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The Gore Rangers are your Class 2A District 5 Tournament champions and will host a regional tournament on Friday and Saturday.
Do we bust out the orange for this?
Vail Mountain School, located at the base of the Gore Range, within spitting distance of Golden Peak, is apparently a basketball school.
“It feels great,” VMS coach Caleb Florence said. “The guys are very excited. It was a great win for us to see the potential of our team. Hopefully, it’s not the first and last time we’re here.”
All kidding aside, it has to start somewhere, as it did with boys soccer (1998, the first to wear orange), volleyball (2001 and 2002, first state appearances) girls soccer (2005, orange) and lacrosse (2017, first conference title).
And the 2020 basketball team has collectively said, “Why not us?”
Not surprisingly, a skier led the way for the Gore Rangers. After skiing and helping beat Vail Christian on Friday, Cole Pattison dropped 31 points on Meeker, including a clutch shot in the fourth to send VMS into overtime.
Becker Dienst added 16 points and Nick Kirwood dropped a 3 in overtime, and we’ve got history on our hands.
“We aren’t afraid of the big moment,” Florence said. “This was the first time for a lot of our guys in a tense situation. I’m proud of the guys.”
So what next?
This is a valid question for VMS basketball. Thirty-two teams make the bracket. Five of those teams are from District 5 — VMS, Meeker, Vail Christian, Plateau Valley, and West Grand.
Everyone, but the district winners are ranked by rating-percentage.
And this is where the district title is such a big deal for VMS. District winners automatically get ranked in the top eight (regardless of RPI) and host a regional next weekend.
Since the Gore Rangers were in the low 30s in RPI, before the site crashed on Saturday night, the No. 8 seed and some home games would be much better.
Vail Mountain (12-9) will host the No. 25 team — it can’t be from District 5 — in the state on Friday. The Round of 16 is on Saturday.
Welcome to March Madness, VMS.
Saints finish third
Vail Christian basketball got off the mat and took out Plateau Valley, 60-44, to take third at the Class 2A District 5 Tournament on Saturday afteernoon.
The Saints still were recovering from the upset Friday night at the hands of the Vail Mountain School, but outscored the Cowboys, 38-18, during the second half of Saturday’s game. Alec Moritz, Jamison Lee, Hayden Sticksel and Chris Cappel were all in double digits.
At last sighting — the rating-percentage index site went down Saturday night — Vail Christian (17-4) was ranked No. 16 in the state.
The Saints will be on the road next weekend in regionals, but that might not be the worst thing in the world.
“The guys are pretty excited,” Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns said. “We like where we’re at. We’re looking forward to getting out of the valley and getting into some new surroundings. We could be a tough out.”
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.