Sailor girls drop first-round district game

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— Steamboat's Jennifer Weber didn't make a single shot in the first half of Thursday night's district tournament game against Montrose, so when the buzzer sounded, she stayed on the court shooting 3-pointers.

As soon as Weber made one, a Sailor fan in the stands cheered, and Weber walked off the court with a smile. That smile boded well for Weber as she hit four 3-pointers in the second half.

But Weber's 12 points were not enough as the Sailors lost 52-40 in the first-round game in Grand Junction. The Sailors held a one-point lead after the first quarter and were down 24-18 at the half. Weber opened the third period with a 3-pointer that pulled Steamboat to within three points, but that was as close as the Sailors got.

Following Weber's 3, the Indians broke things open.

Janel Sutton put in a basket from down low.

The next two points came when Jenny Evans got a long pass and dribbled in for a basket.

Sutton scored again and then a wide-open Krista Herr caught a pass and scored from under the basket.

That scoring spree turned a three-point lead into an 11-point margin and put the Indians in control.

Bayli Stillwell stole the ball deep in Indian territory and took it down for a layup. But down 35-23 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Sailors could not close the gap.

Coach Bruce Alston said the Indians' height advantage hurt the Sailors. His 5-foot-6-and-under perimeter players were no match for the Indians' taller post players.

"They just got a run in the second half," Alston said. "Size-wise, they posted up our wings and that was difficult for our wings to match up."

At the start of the game, Steamboat traded buckets with Montrose.

Montrose's Sutton scored on a basket down low, but Stillwell retaliated with a bucket off a throw-in by Weber.

Again, Sutton scored from down low and Stillwell responded by putting in another two.

Then Stillwell handed the Sailors their first lead when she grabbed a defensive rebound, dribbled downcourt and scored on a layup.

Montrose's Jenny Evans then put the Indians in the lead with a 3-pointer, but Emily Hines struck back with a jumper to make the score 8-7 Sailors at the end of the first quarter.

The game stayed close midway through the second quarter as Hines and Evans each drained 3-pointers.

After Jessica Flores' two points from the foul line tied the game at 16, Sutton and Sara Klippert added four points from down low and Katie Twehous tacked on two from the foul line to push Montrose to a six-point lead at the half.

Sutton finished with 20 points, most of them coming from inside. Fellow post player Klippert scored 11. Twehous also finished with 11.

"(Twehous) didn't score that much," Alston said. "We did a good job on her. The inside game caused us more trouble."

Both Weber and Stillwell finished the game with 12 points.

Being up by one point at the end of the first quarter to the second-ranked team in the district tournament boded well for Steamboat, which is now in the fight for fifth place and a regional tournament berth.

"That was awesome. It definitely boosts our confidence," Sailors point guard Anya Allen said.

In the first round of the consolation bracket, Steamboat will face Palisade at 6:30 p.m. today. It is the third time this year the Sailors and Bulldogs will have met. Palisade won the last game in the final seconds. On Thursday, Palisade lost to Rifle in the first round of the district tournament.

"We want another shot at Palisade," Weber said.

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