The great unknown

Sailor girls have all new starting lineup, hope to play to strengths

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Steve Moos was uncertain about what to expect from last year's Steamboat Springs girls basketball team; it was his first year as coach.

But the same uncertainty exists this time around, as well. The Sailors have a completely new starting lineup and have spent the early part of the season going back and forth between playing great basketball and not-so-great basketball, Moos said.

This much is certain: Steamboat isn't blessed with much height, but it has great team speed; it will be important for the Sailors to play to their strengths.

"We need to do what works for us," senior Bailey Draper said.

Last year's team had little difficulty scoring points behind great perimeter shooting and strong interior play. This season, seniors Shelley Dunlop and Lindsay Stanford and junior Kayla Kostur, a transfer from Hayden, also will provide solid interior play. But all are capable of stepping away from the basket for a short- or medium-range jump shot, as well.

Seniors Erin Christensen and Melissa White will join Draper as the primary scorers from the perimeter.

The up-tempo style Steamboat is capable of playing and the Sailors' ability to force turnovers and create easy shots in transition lends itself to the possibility of Moos expanding his player rotation beyond six or seven players.

"The younger players are aggressive and intense, which is great," he said.

Wednesday, two days before the season opener against defending district champion Montrose, the Sailors worked extensively on offense. The players exhibited patience in the half-court set, working hard to create easy lay-ups or short shots, which was met with compliments from Moos.

The Sailors have a tough non-league schedule that begins at this weekend's Roaring Fork Tournament. While the focus clearly is on the league and possible postseason games, there are certain elements Moos is looking for in the opening weeks of the 2003 season.

"We want to see effort and teamwork and build from that," Moos said. "I feel like we have three strong posts, and I feel good with Bailey at point, and Missy has kind of taken over as the back up."

Players began working in the summer at camps, which helped this year's team begin to create some chemistry, Draper said. Other than Draper, Dunlop and Christensen were the only players who saw significant varsity playing time last year.

But no one needed to learn more about the team than Kostur, a newcomer to not only the team but the school.

"I like it," she said Wednesday.

Draper said it helped the team that Kostur decided to play summer ball with the Sailors, and it's apparent that Kostur has adjusted well to her new setting and teammates.

When Draper was asked if she was comfortable in her established role as the team's point guard, Kostur quickly said, "she should be."

And Draper appreciated her teammate's support, which should go a long way toward the Sailors' goal of winning the Western Slope League. Rifle probably is the league favorite with the return of four starters, but Glenwood Springs and Moffat County will undoubtedly be contenders.

"We'll always set that standard to win the league, the district and go to state," Moos said.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208

or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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