Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs boys basketball team may be advertised as the "Runnin' Sailors," but its defense was more impressive than its ability to score in Thursday's 61-27 win over Middle Park.
In a Steamboat boys basketball game, there is no resting. The Sailors are constantly looking to push the ball up the court. Middle Park tried to match the home team's intensity unsuccessfully.
Steamboat senior Cory Moore said his team tries to tempt an opponent to run with it because many aren't comfortable in a high-speed game.
"If they are comfortable, we slow it down," Moore said.
And the Sailors' ability to change paces on offense is dictated largely by their ability to control an opponent on the defensive end.
"We put an emphasis on defense," coach Kelly Meek said. "We take teams more athletic than us and shut them down."
Meek calls it essentially five players versus the ball. The coaches keep a statistic on deflections, tracking the number of times a player gets his hand on the basketball.
The way Steamboat sees it, any ball misdirected is a ball the Sailors have a shot at stealing.
On Thursday, they got most of those deflections.
Moore had five. Senior Kyle Nelson had three, and junior Devon Borvansky had five down low.
"He was our best post defender (Thursday)," Meek said.
As is typical with many teams at the beginning of the season, the defense is farther along than the offense. Though the score may not necessarily reflect it, Steamboat's offense didn't run entirely well in Thursday's win.
It didn't have a chance to.
The Sailors spent a majority of the night playing transition basketball following Middle Park turnovers or a rebound and quick outlet pass from a Sailors player. Oftentimes Steamboat's jump shooters, though fairly accurate from outside, settled for quick shots instead of working the ball down low.
"Sometimes we get caught up in transition and don't run the offense," Moore said.
Meek said there is a fine line between when to shoot that open transition bucket and when to hold up and get a higher percentage shot.
The Sailors have exceptional perimeter players, and they have the green light to shoot, which they did Thursday night, and they made quite a few.
"We took a lot of bad shots, too," Meek said.
But it never hurt Steamboat, as the Sailors settled into their game plan midway through the first quarter, taking a one-point lead that only grew.
At the end of the first quarter, the score was 17-5. At the half, the scoreboard read 34-13.
Steamboat's offense struggled a bit in the third quarter, as Middle Park came out in a zone that Meek said tempted his perimeter players from firing on the first open look they had.
In the fourth, however, the Sailors refocused using a combination of sophomore Cameron Burney, junior Kyle Re and senior Cody Sherrill to pull away for the win.
Burney came up one rebound shy of recording his second double-double of the season with 15 points and nine rebounds. Senior John Daschle also had 15 points to go along with six rebounds.
Moore chipped in with nine points and six rebounds out of the guard position. Nelson led the team with five assists.
Steamboat moves into the second round of the tournament to face Cheyenne Central at 6:50 p.m. today after it defeated Aspen 66-60 Thursday night.
Meek said Central possesses athletic kids that can really shoot the ball.
"We will have to defend really well and value the ball on offense," Meek said.
On the other side of Steamboat's bracket, Johnson County (Tenn.) defeated Conifer and Liberal (Kan.) defeated Roaring Fork.