Thursday, December 19, 2002
Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs girls basketball team remained perfect on the season with a 54-28 victory over Rangely Thursday night.
The Sailors are 7-0, having mixed strong defensive pressure with an opportunistic offense to give both their coach, Steve Moos, and each other something to be excited about over the long winter break.
Moos doesn't want his team to regress during its break from basketball, however. He has seen some promising things from his varsity roster, but he refuses to accept things as is.
"I never really looked ahead and expected this," Moos said. "We just go day by day. We're doing some things well, but I'm a perfectionist."
For example, Moos was impressed with his team's defensive and offensive presence in the first and fourth quarters of Thursday's win over Rangely, but the middle two quarters left something to be desired.
The Sailors started the game strong, forcing five turnovers off their full-court press, building a 21-8 first-quarter advantage.
The Sailors scored only 12 points in the second quarter, but the Panthers, who had a difficult time getting open shots most of the game, only managed 12 themselves.
The third quarter saw a combined nine points scored. Seniors Tracy Lucas and Bayli Stillwell were the lone scorers for Steamboat in the third, while senior Cassie Fuller, Rangely's leading scorer with seven points, proved to be its only consistent scoring threat for the entire contest.
At the outset of the fourth, the Panthers pulled to within 39-28, but senior Jannike Combs hit a big 3, and junior Shelley Dunlop scored four straight points, pushing Steamboat back to an 18-point lead with 3:55 left in the game.
Combs led the Sailors with 11 points. Lucas had 10 and Dunlop and Stillwell each had six points for Steamboat. Stillwell grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, and Dunlop dished out a team-high four assists in the win.
Moos said the lull his team walked into during the middle minutes of Thursday's game could probably be attributed to its playing its fifth game in seven days. The upcoming break was likely in the back of the Sailors' minds as well.
Still, the 26-point victory is something Steamboat can look to with pride considering Rangely defeated the Sailors the past two seasons.
Senior Jen Weber said the structure that Moos has established on offense, coupled with the team's stifling full-court press, has enabled the Sailors to carry an unblemished record into the new year.
"It's pretty sweet," Weber said. "We have a different offense with more set plays."
What stands out the most, however, is the Sailors' commitment to defense. Steamboat forced eight first-half turnovers alone off their press Thursday, frustrating Rangely's guards and pushing the Panthers' offense into scramble mode.
Many of Steamboat's first seven opponents have had a difficult time adjusting to the pressure, and once opponents have figured out how to better break it, the Sailors have already capitalized on easy transition baskets and established a cushy lead.
"It's been wearing down the other teams' guards a lot," Weber said.
Blessed with a deep bench, Steamboat has the luxury to press at will without worrying about fatigue.
"We kept it on (Thursday)," Moos said. "We weren't getting beat off it. They weren't shooting that well either. Even when it was two on one, they were missing and that's usually a sign of fatigue."
Moos said the plan over the holiday break is to have the Sailors come in and play some full-court or three-on-three to stay in shape. Moos can't have contact with the team himself until Jan. 2, but the girls are free to work out on their own.