Saturday, December 14, 2002
Steamboat Springs Coach Kelly Meek and the Steamboat Springs basketball team know what you thought.
You didn't think they had a chance against an athletic Liberal team that routed its first-round opponent by 48 points.
But Steamboat proved everyone wrong, defeating the Kansas squad 57-53 to win the Steamboat Shoot-out Saturday night.
The Sailors' victory validates Meek's system, which is, essentially, execute on offense and work your tail off on defense.
Steamboat did just that, finding scores when needed and relying on strong defensive pressure to prevent Liberal from leaving town with the trophy.
"When you play someone athletically superior than you, you better follow the game plan," Meek said.
It doesn't hurt when your perimeter player gets video game-hot either.
Trailing 43-38 in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, Steamboat needed someone from the outside to get open and hit shots because Liberal wasn't about to let Cameron Burney touch the ball down low.
Sailors senior John Daschle stepped up, hitting four straight buckets, including two 3s, plus a pair of free throws, that eventually lifted the Sailors to a 50-49 lead.
The two teams traded the lead again before Daschle hit another wide-open 3 to move Steamboat ahead 55-53. It proved to be the game-winning shot.
"I can't remember a run like that," Daschle said. "Coach was telling me I wasn't getting set on my shot. Once I started doing that, the rest of the game came to me."
Meek complimented Daschle after the game for stepping up and hitting those baskets, despite the fact he had been struggling lately. Meek also noted that Daschle was able to get so open because of the dirty work done by the screeners around the key.
"He made big shots at big times," Meek said.
Senior Cory Moore secured the win with two free throws in the closing seconds of the game.
Daschle, Moore and Burney were all named to the all-tournament team.
Moore, the tournament MVP, was the leading scorer for Steamboat Saturday night with 20 points. Daschle had 19, while Burney recorded his second straight double-double, with 10 points and 15 rebounds, despite playing with four fouls for the entire fourth quarter.
In fact, except for a handful of minutes Devon Borvansky played for the foul-plagued Burney, the Sailors used five guys the entire night.
Senior point guard Kyle Nelson was out with an injury.
"We were going well," Meek said. "That shows how highly conditioned our guys are."
After the win, Daschle, with his tournament medal around his neck, appeared as if he could have gone longer.
"We always want overtime to put our will against yours," Daschle said.
Spoken like a champion, Meek said.