Steamboat Springs Sailors head coach Bruce Alston felt his team needed to do two things if they wanted to beat the Rifle Bears at home.
The first was reduce the team's turnovers against the No. 2 team in the league, and the second was to shut down the Bears' top scorers. Steamboat did both for 31 minutes Friday night. Unfortunately, the game lasted 32 minutes and in that final minute, the Bears managed to escape with a 43-36 win.
"I felt confident coming into the game," Sailors post-player Katie Carter said. "I felt like we could beat this team and we almost did. "
The 6-foot-1 sophomore went five-for-nine in the game and scored 13 points. She also had 10 rebounds and only one turnover Teammate Natalie Muth added nine points and Jannike Combs netted seven points including five points in five attempts from the free throw line. Baylie Stillwell has 14 rebounds on the night collecting seven on the offensive side and seven more defensively.
Carter, however, said the pressure of the game began to mount on the young Sailors throughout the night until it reached a peak with about 51 seconds left to play. The game was tied at 36 points.
That's when Steamboat turned the ball over triggering a chain of events that would lead to the Rifle win. Rifle's Megan Langstaff made the hometown team pay for the turnover, only one of 17 on the night for the Sailors. She was fouled while driving to the basket, and managed to get the shot down to give her team a two-point lead. She then completed the three-point play.
Then as Steamboat attempted to inbound the squad's next possession, Rifle's Monica Morris stole the ball and scored the field goal ending the Sailors hopes for a comeback.
The Bears' top scorer Marilyn Samson also hurt the Sailors in the final quarter. She had 14 points on the night with nine coming in the final eight minutes of play.
"When we got a lead we needed to slow things down a bit. Instead I think we got a little too excited," Carter said. "In the end we had all sophomores out there and they had seniors with a lot more experience."
Alston said experience may have played a role in the game, but he thinks that his sophomore players can keep pace with any team in the league right now.
"There is a little confidence hump that we still need to get over," Alston said. "We haven't beat this Rifle team on a regular basis in a long time and our players just need to believe they can do it."