Head of the class

Sailors basketball team members earn All-Conference honors

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— While Steamboat's girls basketball team did not pass through the District Tournament this season, the skills of three Sailors earned them top marks in the Western Slope.

Post player Bayli Stillwell topped the class as the only Sailor named to the All-Conference first team. Point guard Anya Allen and guard Emily Hines were given honorable-mention honors.

"It is really quite an honor to their efforts," Sailors coach Bruce Alston said. "I can't vote on my own players or I'd have a lot more of them on there."

The three Sailors helped the team to a 7-15 record this year. Steamboat's season ended in the final round of the district tournament when it lost to Palisade at the buzzer.

The game against Palisade, which ended 43-42 after the Sailors could not get a shot past the Bulldogs defense in the final 16 seconds, sent the Sailors out of the tournament and killed their chances of advancing to regionals.

The game against Palisade was one of a handful of games where the 6-foot Stillwell lit up the scoreboard with 20 points. The junior was instrumental down low as she averaged 13 points and seven rebounds per game.

As the Sailors' lone starting senior and the only returning starter from last year, Hines brought leadership and experience to the young team. She also ended the season turning in stats that had her averaging 10 points and 6 rebounds per game.

While Allen averaged five points, two steals and four assists per game, Alston said it was her leadership role at the point position that earned her respect.

"Anya didn't score a lot of points for us, but the intangibles that she brought, meaning positive floor leadership and great energy, are oftentimes more important than points," Alston said.

At times Steamboat had a rocky season as it dropped four of its first league games before winning against Delta. From that point, Steamboat went on to win four more games to end its league season 5-7.

"I'm really proud of the girls. They could have imploded or exploded or just given up. And they just never did. They came out to practice every day," Alston said.

With Hines and rotating point guard Jessica Flores, the only Sailors graduating from the team, Alston should have four of his starters returning along with a handful of underclassmen that saw quality playing time off the bench.

In addition to Stillwell and Allen, junior guard Jennifer Weber, who damaged teams with a deadly 3-point shot, and 6-foot-1 post player Tracy Lucas should return to the floor as starters. Although junior Baily Draper and sophomore Shelly Dunlop were not in the starting lineup, both made major contributions.

"We have an awful lot of quality players coming back with a lot of experience," Alston said. "The underclassmen really show some promise."

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