Steamboat Springs Last Saturday, the Steamboat Sailors came up with a tremendous second-half performance at the Roaring Fork Tourney to edge past the Glenwood Springs Demons by two points in the finals. Today, the 2-0 Sailors must deliver an even better performance if they hope to dethrone the 5A Warriors of Grand Junction Central.
Led by Andrew Roberts, who averages 15 points per game, the Warriors may be the most solid team in all of Western Colorado, Sailors coach Kelly Meek said. Grand Junction Central, which is 2-1, comes off two recent blow-out wins over 5A contenders Horizon and Bear Creek.
Roberts scored 11 points and Rick Johnson had 17 to lead Grand Junction Central to a 70-45 win over Horizon during the Warrior Challenge. In the same tournament, Grand Junction Central defeated Bear Creek 72-55.
The lone blemish on the Warriors' record this season came at the hands of the Highlands Ranch Falcons, who defeated them 47-41 in overtime, which also occurred during the Warrior Challenge. In that game, the Warriors shot just 35 percent from the field and missed a layup at the end of regulation for the win.
"If we could have hit the broad side of a barn we would have won that game," said Warriors coach John Sidanycz.
Steamboat, which plays in the 4A Western Slope Conference, has the size to match up with Roberts and Johnson, who are 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-6, respectively. But it remains to be seen if the Sailors possess the offensive weapons to combat a Warriors team that averages 61 points per game.
Steamboat put up 76 points against West Grand during the Roaring Fork Tourney, but the Mustangs play in the 2A classification.
"They're (Warriors) racking up the points," said Meek, whose team fell to Grand Junction Central three years ago in the first round of the state tournament. "You can tell they're an offensive powerhouse.
"We know they're probably the strongest team around and that definitely presents a challenge to us. But that's the only way to find out what your true weaknesses and real strengths are."
Steamboat takes with it the momentum from winning the Roaring Fork Tourney, which was played last Friday and Saturday.
Through two games, senior Sailor Andrew Johnston averages 17.5 points and senior Rusty Eck averages 8.5 rebounds. Meek said that rebounding would be the key against Grand Junction Central. The Sailors need to keep the Warriors from pounding the offensive glass, he said.
Sidanycz, who is in his first year as head coach, inherits a ball club that went 12-9 overall last season. Sidanycz was an assistant coach for five years at Grand Junction High School, which won back-to-back league championships the past two seasons.
Grand Junction Central, which competed in the 4A league last season, is strongest on the defensive side, Sidanycz said. The Warriors have allowed their opponents 49 points per game.
The main concern, Sidanycz said, is sizing up with Steamboat's post players.
"Physically, that's my biggest concern," Sidanycz said. "They have big, strong kids. We're pretty tall, but we're not that big and strong.
"I've never been to Steamboat but I'm looking forward to making the trip up there and playing a quality basketball team. It will be good for us to play against a big, physical team."
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