Boys hope to continue early season run

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— Steamboat's win over Conifer in the championship round of the Steamboat Shoot-Out has the Sailors enjoying a 7-0 record at the holiday break.

The Sailors, who beat the Lobos Dec. 16, do not play again until Jan. 5, which is when they open league play against the Palisade Bulldogs at 7:30 p.m. at home.

The Sailors won two tournaments this season, including the Roaring Fork Tourney Dec. 2 and the Steamboat Shoot-Out.

Their most thrilling win came against the Grand Junction Central Warriors, whom they defeated 68-65 at home. Central is in the 5A Southwestern League.

Dustin Phillips had 23 points against the Sailors in that game, but Steamboat had key performances from Ryan Kiely, Andrew Johnston and Alex Mackey.

Mackey finished with nine points and seven rebounds and Kiely scored 10, including two free throws that sealed the game.

Johnston finished with 20 points and six rebounds.

Kiely, who played sparingly in three games this year with the flu, averages 8.3 points, 3.5 assists and three steals per game.

Mackey, who came up from the junior varsity last season, has made a significant impact this season for the varsity, coach Kelly Meek said.

Mackey averages 8.9 points and 6.9 rebounds. He leads the team in field-goal percentage at 67 percent.

He and three other players from last year's junior varsity team have contributed a great deal to the varsity's success, Meek said.

Those players include Jeff Aragon, Ryan Scheer, Hunter Maddox and Mackey.

"Every one of them has improved," Meek said. "Those four have really made big strides. We're just flat overall stronger."

Maddox hit a key three-pointer and finished with five rebounds and a pair of steals against Conifer. Maddox has made five of seven three-point attempts this season.

Aragon, who has played with an injured thumb since the Central game, averages six points, 3.3 assists and 2.3 steals per game. He sank five free throws against Hotchkiss at the end to seal the win.

Ryan Scheer averages 7.4 points and 3.3 assists per game. Scheer had 13 points against Conifer and was named to the all-tournament team at the Shoot-Out.

The Sailors' four returning varsity players have been solid, too.

Andrew Johnston, who was the most valuable player at the Shoot-Out, leads the Sailors in scoring with 14.4 points per game and in free-throw percentage at 80 percent per game.

Johnston also averages seven rebounds and 4.3 assists.

Danny Weber had 14 points, five rebounds and three steals against Rangely. He averages eight points and 4.9 rebounds per game.

Rusty Eck, who made the all-tournament team at the Shoot-Out, had 15 points against Platte Canyon during Steamboat's 18-point come-from-behind victory over the Huskies.

Eck averages 9.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

Kiely is the other returning starter.

The Sailors' success so far this season can be attributed to its balance, Meek said. It also can be attributed to the tight bond that the players have with one another.

"The biggest plus we have going for us is our unity," Meek said. "They're good to each other, and there is just real good chemistry there."

Sailors assistant coaches Jason Patrick and Mike Sherrill agree.

"I think the one thing that really stands out to me about the varsity team is the unity they have," Sherrill said. "They're best of friends on and off the court."

Patrick echoed Sherrill's sentiment. "I think that's what's going to make this team one of the best (at Steamboat)."

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