Vail Mountain finishes regular season with win vs. Soroco |

Vail Mountain finishes regular season with win vs. Soroco

Special to the DailyVail Mountain coach Vinny Cisneros and the Gore Rangers basketball team sent off senior J.C. Hernandez off with a win Saturday against Soroco

EAST VAIL – What a finish. But, wait, it’s not a finish.

The Vail Mountain School boys varsity basketball team ended the regular season on a soaring note, defeating Soroco, 60-55, Saturday in East Vail.

Not only was it win No. 3 for the fledgling program, it was the Gore Rangers’ first win against a 2A-sized Slope opponent. (More details on that later.) Vail Mountain also continued a promising trend of playing better against an opponent in a second meeting. The Gore Rangers lost their first game with the Rams, 49-41, up in Oak Creek.

“It’s great,” coach Vinny Cisneros said. “The kids had so much fun today. It’s nice to see them adjust to teams and take what they’ve learned and get better.”

Vail Mountain finished its maiden voyage in the 2A Slope, or District 5, with a record of 3-7, quite the accomplishment for a first-year varsity team. Now here’s were it gets a little confusing, so stay with us.

The 2A Slope is actually composed of 2A and 1A schools, lumped together for the regular season because of geography. Plateau Valley, Vail Christian, North Park and DeBeque all depart for their own 1A district tournament against teams from the San Juan League.

That leaves seven 2A teams, including Vail Mountain, for the District 5 2A Tournament. By virtue of Saturday’s win, the Gore Rangers finished sixth out of the seven 2A teams and will face likely either West Grand or Rangely on Tuesday. (This is an educated guess as not all schools have reported to Varvee, which is CHSAA’s official statistics site. This will be confirmed Monday.)

Whether it’s West Grand or Rangely, what’s exciting the VMS camp is the development of the team as the season has progressed. When the season started, the Gore Rangers were basically Sean McKeever and Paco Holguin, their post-players.

While both are excellent inside and key to VMS’s success – McKeever had 20 points Saturday against the Rams and Holguin had nine – the Gore Rangers increasingly are getting production from their guards.

Case in point – junior Nolan Bock went off for 15 Saturday against Soroco. Mitch Saalfeld had 10.

“The guys were a little timid earlier in the season,” Cisneros said. “They were scared to shoot and relied on Sean and Paco to score. Now, they’re getting the confidence.”

And this opens things up nicely. If teams look to box down on McKeever and Holguin, VMS has another option with the perimeter game. Gore Rangers shooters can also put the ball up with more confidence, knowing that McKeever and Holguin can nab the rebounds and, hopefully, turn those into put-backs.

Whatever happens in the postseason for VMS, it’s been a good first varsity campaign. The Gore Rangers honored their lone senior, J.C. Hernandez, before Saturday’s game.

Saints finish 11-7

COLBRAN – No more home games.

When Vail Christian athletic director Tim Pierson sets the schedule for next year, just put the Vail Christian girls basketball team on the road for all 19 games. Maybe, he can find some games in Nebraska or Wyoming.

The Saints spent all of February away from the friendly confines and finished that road odyssey with a stunning 6-2 mark, capped by a 35-33 win at Plateau Valley Saturday. Add in the fact that the Saints have been without Dakota Francis and Ashlyn Gruber for most of this time, and Vail Christian may want to wear its road blues forever.

The Saints will stay on the road as districts in Olathe approach next week. They will be the top seed of the 2A Slope teams moving down to the 1A District 1 Tournament, where they will be joined by squads from the San Juan League.

Vail Christian takes on Ouray – holy Mountain League flashback, Batman – Thursday at noon.

The Saints enter that game with a program-best 11-7 record in the regular season. (Vail Christian didn’t play the allotted 19 games because its nonconference tilt with Eagle Ridge was snowed out.)

“Considering what they’ve been through – without Dakota and Ashlyn – they’ve done a great job,” Saints coach Doug Bruce said. “They’ve had to adjust and readjust. It’s been fun to be on the ride with them.”

While no one at Vail Christian wants the ride to end, Vail Christian took care of business for the second time this year against the Cowboys, and won another tight game. Bruce said that his team will probably benefit from playing so many close games come districts.

Tracy Salgado led the Saints with 10 points, while Alexis Ellsworth had nine and Kylie Alexander eight.

The Vail Christian boys are also at Olathe, starting their district tournament against Nucla at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or

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