Hard-core' fans rock the court

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— Often seen in the front row in the gymnasium's bleachers, dressed in military fatigues or hunting camouflage and red bandannas or hats, the "Steamboat Hard-core" are the heart and soul of the hysteria at Sailors boys basketball games.

Led by their general football player JoJo Bucci the camouflaged men are responsible for pumping up the basketball players during the heat of battle.

As Steamboat trailed Platte Canyon late in the game last Thursday during the Steamboat Shoot-Out, the Steamboat Hard-core stomped their boots and started their chants: "Hail Steamboat, Hail Sailors, Hail Eck," they said.

They were referring to Rusty Eck, Steamboat's 6-foot-7 center who finished the game with 15 points en route to his team's 64-61 come-from-behind victory.

Eck, who generally blocks out crowd noise at games, admitted that during the Platte Canyon win, Steamboat Hard-core could be heard quite loud and clear.

"I like it," Eck said. "They're crazy it's good to have them. They make a lot of energy. It's kind of cool to look over there and see a group in camouflage and a group in red."

Members of Steamboat Hard-core are Gaspar Perricone, Stewart Beall, Steven Mahosky, Tony Haight, Tim Hays, Rich Darsow, Mark Gillaspie, Jamie McKelvie, Garrett McGinn, Ron Assad and Bucci.

Bucci, who says his troops plan to paint their chests for a pair of Steamboat vs. Moffat County games later this season, said his group is just out to have fun.

"We're nothing like the Trench-Coat Mafia," Bucci said. "That's not the case. We're just real tight. We like to go to these games and get rowdy and have a good time."

Steamboat Hard-core may be appealing to Steamboat players, but opposing fans are not amused by them, they say.

"What are they trying to prove?" asked Jodi Hintz, who was on the Hotchkiss side of the stands when the Sailors faced the Bulldogs during the Shoot-Out.

"I haven't heard a thing out of them all night."

It is doubtful that Hintz was unable to hear Steamboat Hard-core as they heckled every Bulldogs player who stepped to the free throw line. And it is even more unlikely that she missed Steamboat Hard-core run onto the court to congratulate the Sailors after their 62-58 victory over the Bulldogs.

Haight said he and his buddies would continue to show their support for the boys team that holds a perfect 7-0 record.

"It's just all about the appearance," Haight said. "We're just trying to pump up the team to let them know we're there."

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