Wednesday, February 27, 2002
Steamboat Springs With all but one of its players possibly coming back, Montrose is a different team than the one Steamboat pounded 56-34 last season in the semifinal round of the district tournament.
When the Sailors face the Indians at 8:15 p.m. today in the first round of the district tournament in Grand Junction, it will be a team with a deadlier 3-point threat and a faster transition than the one the Sailors played almost a year ago.
Along with the addition of new coach Steve Hill, the team has highly improved in its ball movement, has a better transition game and runs an offense that allows more players to find open
"It is a more open style of basketball. If we can run and transition down, everybody can shoot the 3s. I feel (last year) was a more disciplined and strict offense."
The Indians' biggest scoring threat comes from guard Zach Smith who averages close to 15 points a game.
However, Montrose also brings even scoring around the perimeter with Miles Scheer, Bryce Caroll, Stefon Patton and Tim Brown. The strong inside play of J.T. Shelton and Taylor Cox will also be a factor.
"That is the other nice thing (about this year's team). They all can shoot the 3s. If they want to leave us open, then we'll definitely shoot it," Hill said.
When Montrose went up against Montezuma-Cortez, one of the top 4A schools in the state, 21 of its points came from 3-point baskets.
And those treys are the biggest concern for the Sailors.
"It's really important on how we defend, on the defensive transition, on the five-on-five in halfcourt," Sailors coach Kelly Meek said.
Although Smith is a constant in the Indians' lineup, Hill said his other starting four often depends on the other team's lineup.
"Basically, it depends on how other teams start and how we match up with them if we want to go to a bigger or a quicker line-up," Hill said.
With a 2-8 record in the Southwestern Conference, Mont-
rose comes into the tournament in fifth place in the six-team league. The league, however, includes four 5A schools and Montezuma-Cortez, the favorite heading into the Western Slope district tournament.
"It's a little bigger school, a little better talent pool to pull from," Hill said. "We have to play tougher competition. It has to help you. It makes you step up and play at a higher level."
Montrose's overall record is 7-11, including a 53-38 win over Palisade and a 58-48 loss to Rifle.
Against the Bears, Hill said his team had trouble defending their big man, 6-foot-9 Carl Day, a problem that has faced the Indians all season.
"We really struggle with the big kids," Hill said.
With a win meaning an automatic berth into the regional tourney, tonight's game is crucial for both teams.