Mysterious Ralston Valley awaits Sailors in opening game of Shoot-Out


— The Sailors girls basketball team opens up against Ralston Valley at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Steamboat Shoot-Out.

The Shoot-Out, which runs Thursday through Saturday, includes 16 teams, including eight in both the girls' and boys' brackets.

Win or lose Thursday, Steamboat will play on each of the three days.

The Sailors, who came from behind to edge past the Rangely Panthers 39-35 Saturday, will be paired up against a Ralston Valley ball club that begins its first year of basketball.

Wendy Braye, who has no seniors on her Mustangs squad, says three freshmen and two juniors will start in Thursday's game.

Rebekah Pike, who is a junior, is the Mustangs' tallest player at 6-foot-1. Erika Foss is the team's other junior starter and will play in either the guard or forward position. Aspen Schmidt, who also plays guard or forward, will be joined in the lineup with guard Jamie Hynes and with guard-forward Michelle Hockett.

Three members of the Mustangs' junior varsity team will suit up for Thursday's game in place of three injured varsity players, Braye said.

Bruce Alston, who coaches the Sailors, said his team would have to improve from last week's dismal performance against the Panthers to fare well in the tournament.

The Sailors trailed by eight as they entered the final period against the Mustangs and finished the game with 22 turnovers.

"We're going to have to play a whole lot better than last week," Alston said. "We're really going to have to reduce our turnovers and get into a better rhythm. We need to come out at the first tip and be ready to play."

The Mustangs, who compete in the 4A classification, defeated the Northridge Grizzlies earlier this season. The team has losses to Mountain View, Gateway and Aurora Central.

Steamboat, meanwhile, enters the contest with wins over West Grand and Rangely. The Sailors were defeated by the Glenwood Springs Demons 49-48 in double overtime during the Roaring Fork Tourney.

Senior Sailor Brienna Combs, who scored 13 fourth-quarter points against Rangely, averages 14.3 points per game this season. Natalie Muth averages 8.3 points per game and Ashley Rogers averages 5.3 points and seven rebounds per game.

Teams in the girls' Steamboat Shoot-out tournament include Grand Junction, Hotchkiss, Ralston Valley, Aspen, Platte Canyon, Roaring Fork, Conifer and Steamboat.

"We're looking forward to playing," Alston said. "It's our first home tournament and just playing host to it is going to be fun. We're just going to have to play a whole lot better than last week."


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