Steamboat Springs For the second consecutive year, the Sailors boys basketball team won the Roaring Fork Tourney in a game that went down to the wire.
Trailing 30-21 at halftime against Glenwood Springs Saturday, the Sailors put the pressure on the Demons in the final two quarters, clawing their way back to a 49-47 victory.
But the Sailors nearly blew a five-point lead with three seconds remaining in the game.
Hunter Maddox was called for an offensive foul during an inbounds play and was then whistled for a technical foul.
That sent the Demons' Thomas Ahrens to the foul line, where he made three of four free throws.
Since the Sailors were called for a technical foul, the Demons were given possession of the ball after Ahrens shot his free throws.
But the guard's last-second jumper missed off the back iron as the Sailors escaped with the win.
"It was just a relief," said Steamboat player Rusty Eck, who led the team with eight rebounds. "We had the game wrapped up and it became a lot closer than it needed to be."
On Friday, Steamboat defeated West Grand 76-38 in the first round of the tournament.
Last year, Steamboat knocked off Roaring Fork in a thrilling one-point victory in the tournament championship.
The Sailors outscored the Demons 14-11 in the final quarter Saturday, earning themselves the tournament title and a 2-0 start to the 2000 season.
In the second half, Steamboat used its brawn to outwork its opponent.
"We just came out, defended and hit the boards like animals," Sailors coach Kelly Meek said. "We just thoroughly dominated defensively during that (final) period."
Eck led the Sailors with eight rebounds and Alex Mackey had seven.
Andrew Johnston was the team's scoring leader with 19 points.
Against West Grand, Eck and Johnston had 16 points apiece. Jeff Aragon, who had four assists against the Mustangs, played the point in place of starter Ryan Kiely, who missed the game with an illness.
Maddox, who dumped in 11 points against the Mustangs, started with Aragon and Johnston at the perimeter.
Eck had nine rebounds against the Mustangs and Danny Weber and Mackey each had eight rebounds. Mackey had 12 points and Ryan Scheer added nine.
West Grand's leading scorer was James Holmes with 16 points.
Glenwood Springs jumped out to a 19-9 lead at the end of the first quarter and was ahead by 14 at one span during the second period.
But the Demons' scoring success came to a halt during the second half when the Sailors continued to pound the boards and play aggressive defense. Ahrens, who had 17 points against the Sailors, was held to just three in the final half.
Steamboat finally took the lead with about three minutes to go, and the team was extremely efficient from the foul line down the stretch, Meek said. The Sailors made their final five free throws.
Saturday's victory was an opportunity for the Sailors to gain some valuable experience in terms of playing in a close situation late in the game, Meek said.
"I like being in those kinds of games early in the season," Meek said. "That's how you learn to grow."
The Sailors play host to the 5A Grand Junction Central Warriors at 6 p.m. Friday.
To reach Eric Rineer call 871-4229 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org