Steamboat Springs Friday night's game against Basalt was just the fourth of the year for the Steamboat Springs girls basketball team, but coach Steve Moos marked it as important nonetheless.
Basalt went to the state semifinals last season and was ranked in the top 10 again in Class 3A this winter. Moos felt Friday's game was a statement contest of sorts for his Sailors squad.
"We talked about playing at a higher level before this game," Moos said.
His players listened as the Sailors defeated the Longhorns 68-58, improving to 4-0 this season.
Three Steamboat players finished in double digits paced by senior Jannike Combs' 15.
Senior Bayli Stillwell had 14 and classmate Jen Weber chipped in with 13 points in a winning effort.
Once again, all eight players that saw action for the Sailors contributed offensively and defensively.
"We have a lot of depth," Combs said. "If someone gets shut down, we can all step up and take another role. We haven't had a great reputation, or a bad one, but we're showing everyone what we can do."
That starts down low.
Both Aspen, Steamboat's opponent Thursday, and Basalt had strong interior players in Lizzie Suiter and Lauren Redfern. Both led their teams in scoring but neither was able to single-handedly lift her team to a victory, which pleased Moos.
"They're doing great," Moos said. "We changed the style of how we're playing post 'D.' Our whole team defense has changed."
Steamboat and Basalt were tied at nine after the first quarter before the Sailors went on a 12-5 run through the first five minutes of the second quarter.
The Longhorns closed the gap to seven at the half.
The Sailors put another little run together in the third and fourth, moving ahead by as many as 17 at one point, but Redfern and her Basalt teammates kept things interesting, getting quick points down low and promptly fouling the first Steamboat player to touch the ball on its late possessions.
Combs and senior Anya Allen combined to make eight free throws down the stretch to preserve the victory.
"This was a big win," Moos said. "We're on the right track. I thought we came out in the first half and played well and established ourselves. I really felt like we controlled the game and did a good job of dictating the pace."
Steamboat will play for a tournament title Sunday in the final day of the Steamboat Shoot-out against Conifer at 5:10 p.m. in the new high school gym.
Conifer has lost to both Aspen and Roaring Fork.
The girls are playing in a modified round-robin bracket, and the team with the best overall record at the end will win the tournament crown.
Steamboat is currently 2-0, while Aspen and Basalt are each 1-1.
Roaring Fork is 1-0 and did not play Friday after 10 players and three coaches were rushed to Yampa Valley Medical Center and treated for carbon monoxide poisoning.
All are doing fine, but the team was ordered to refrain from any physical activity for up to 24 hours. They are expected to play two games today.