Saints log big wins against West Grand
EDWARDS — It’s a fun night of basketball when two guys dressed in neon orange and green from head to toe aren’t the most unusual people in the stands.
Anyone notice the tall guy in the southwest corner of the bleachers?
Yep, the Vail Christian boys basketball team had Duke’s Christian Laettner in attendance for Senior Night, a huge 54-45 victory over West Grand on Friday night at the Wheeler Athletic Center in Edwards.
“We heard about it right before the game,” senior Alex Davis said. “It’s way cool for him to come back and watch us.”
Laettner has conducted basketball camps at Vail Christian in years past and was in town for some skiing, so why not see how his players are doing?
“They saw him before the game,” Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns said. “It’s a compliment to Christian that he’d come back while he’s here. It was nice of him to cheer us on.”
Laettner aside, Vail Christian (12-5 overall, 7-1 in the Gore League) gained the inside track on the league title. The Saints need to win out next weekend at North Park and DeBeque to clinch their second straight Gore title and grab important seeding for the upcoming district tournament.
As beautiful as the result was for Vail Christian, Friday night’s game was a typical ugly February-like game between two rivals. With the Saints leading 20-16 in the third quarter, senior Logan Raitt ripped off six straight points.
“It’s super-important this time of year,” Raitt said. “It’s a tough. You’ve got to grind it out, and it’s working out good.”
Sophomore Bryan Trujillo scored the next two field goals, including a kiss-off-the-glass layup. Joseph Emmer added a layup and Raitt finished the period off with another bucket. Leading 34-36 after three, the Saints played poised basketball down the stretch, including taking their time as the waning minutes wound down. (Please no jokes.)
The Saints were understandably a bit out of sorts with Davis gutting out an ankle injury throughout the game. Presumably, Davis is going to see a lot of rest between now and the first round of districts on Feb. 23.
“I’m going home and sticking my ankle in a bucket of ice,” Davis said.
Before the game, Davis, Ryan Hethcote and Raitt, with a game-high 22 points, took their bows for Senior Night.
Girls get revenge vs. Mustangs
Welcome to second place in the Gore League, ladies.
Vail Christian girls basketball picked up a huge win on Friday night against West Grand, 64-49, at the Wheeler Athletic Center in Edwards.
Not only was it nice revenge for a 47-44 loss in Kremmling earlier this season, but it puts Saints (12-4 overall and 6-2 in the Gore League) in prime position for the district tournament at the end of the month.
If the Saints can win out with road games at North Park and DeBeque — and Vail Christian is favored to do so — then they avoid playing Paonia or Cedaredge, the Nos. 2 and 3 teams in all of 2A, in a win-or-go-home game on the road the first round of districts. Instead the Saints likely will face Meeker, Hotchkiss or Hayden at home.
And that made for a superb senior night for Emma Haynes, Jessie Hartley, Remy Beveridge, Britney Bossow, Coco Spangler, Susan Vanderveer and Molly Boselli.
“The fact that I’ve known them since they were all in the third grade, I can’t believe that they are actually seniors,” Saints coach Beth Raitt said. “They are quality people and we’ll have big shoes to fill.”
The Saints trailed the Mustangs (14-3, 5-3), 33-32, early in the second half. Jessie Hartley, who finished with 17 points, sank two free throws with 5:14 left in the third quarter. Spangler came off the bench with a big jumper.
Spangler played a huge role defensively as well. She got the assignment of guarding West Grand’s Gabby Wilson.
“I kinda just wanted to stay on her,” Spangler said. “I was going to be her best friend. I wasn’t letting her go.”
In an extremely physical game, Marti Schmidt had two gritty put-backs and put an exclamation point on things with a steal, layup and the foul for a 3-point play.
That run was part of a tremendous effort all around by the Saints in the passing game. Vail Christian whipped the ball around all game, creating beautiful, and, often-successful looks at the bucket.
“They’re family,” Raitt said. “They look after each other, talk to each other and protect each other on the court. That showed tonight.”
Sophomore Schmidt ended up leading Vail Christian with 19 points, while Kass Baker had a huge night with 14. Not to be left out Jessie Raitt had 11.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.
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