Sailors fumble opener

Turnovers lead to 57-40 loss to Grand Junction Central

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— Turnovers proved to be costly for the Steamboat girls basketball team in its home opener Tuesday night against Grand Junction Central High School.

After trailing by just five points at the half, the Sailors quickly slipped behind the Warriors, who came out strong in the third period and outscored the Sailors 17-8.

Central, which plays in the 5A Class, dominated the second half en route to a 57-40 win.

Steamboat committed 17 turnovers in the second half.

"The defense made (poor) passing decisions. We turned the ball over way too many times," Sailors coach Bruce Alston said.

In the final minutes of the first half, Sailors forward Bayli Stillwell made a bucket to trim the Warriors' lead to 22-21.

But Central's Willow Peppel then connected on two free throws and Morgan Nieslank scored from under the net to extend the team's lead again just before half.

The Warriors took a 26-21 lead into halftime, and would not relinquish its lead the rest of the way.

In the first period, the Sailors came out strong as forward Shelly Dunlop tied the score at 6-6 and guard Jennifer Weber tied the game again at 11-11 at the buzzer. Weber found the third time was a charm, draining a 3-point bucket after she had missed two previous shots from downtown in the opening period.

The Sailors ended the night with Stillwell leading in both scoring and rebounding as she tallied eight points and came down with eight rebounds. Weber also had eight points and forward Tracy Lucas followed with seven.

On defense, Dunlop and Weber contributed four rebounds. Alston said the girls had strong half-court defense and passed the ball up the court well.

"They're a very young team, the composure will come," Alston said of the Sailors, who returned only one starter, Emily Hines, from last year's team.

Central coach Matt Schakel said the Warriors needed to work out some opening season nerves in the first period of the game.

"We missed 15 shots from within three feet of the basket (in the first half). We made those missed easy shots when we went out in the third quarter," Schakel said. "It's our first game of the year. We're a little

nervous, a little excited."

Although the school size of Central is four times that of Steamboat, Alston said he wanted to put the Warriors on the preseason schedule to test his team.

"The first game we had was against a small team (West Grand). They were really scrappy. We gave it our all and won pretty easy. But we learned a whole lot more by playing a team like (Central)," Alston said. "I'd rather play up in preseason like this and have this type of outcome then play down and not learn much."

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