Sailors put pressure on for win

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If the Steamboat Springs girls basketball team plays its next two games like it played during the first quarter of Thursday's game, the Sailors have a shot at defending their Steamboat Shootout title.

But if Steamboat (2-1) plays sloppy and rushed like it did during stretches of the final three quarters of Thursday's win against Aspen, it won't have much success against Basalt and Conifer.

And establishing that consistency in play is something coach Steve Moos said the Sailors will continue to work on.

Steamboat defeated Aspen, 48-32, in both teams' opening-round games of the three-day Steamboat Shootout on Thursday night.

Steamboat and Roaring Fork, also in the field, are the defending co-champions.

The Sailors got things going Thursday with a three-point shot from senior Melissa White. Senior Erin Christensen followed that up with three of her own. At the end of the first quarter, the Sailors had a 16-1 lead.

But then Steamboat took two steps backward in the second, forcing shots and passes and making careless mistakes, allowing Aspen to pull to within eight by halftime.

And the Skiers had nearly 20 turnovers in the game's first 16 minutes.

Steamboat's only scores of the second quarter came off junior Kayla Kostur's jumper and three free throws -- two from senior Shelley Dunlop and one from junior Abby Johnson.

But coach Steve Moos couldn't fault the effort. After so-so performances in last weekend's Roaring Fork tournament against Montrose and Glenwood Springs, he told the team he wanted to see more aggression and more energy on the court.

Thursday, he got it. But it may have played a part in Steamboat committing too many fouls, particularly in the fourth quarter with the lead, and missing easy layups and wide-open shots.

"I think we got frustrated," Moos said. "And when you get frustrated, you try to make things happen."

One area the Sailors excelled in Thursday was the full-court press. When Steamboat wasn't committing fouls while in it, Aspen had difficulty breaking it with any regularity.

During a three-minute stretch to close out the third quarter, the Sailors outscored the Skiers 10-2, off two baskets from sophomore Jessica Peters and a combined four points from classmates Kelly Labor and Missy Chotvacs. All three came off the bench Thursday for Steamboat.

Chotvacs led Steamboat in scoring with 10 points. Dunlop had eight and Kostur had six points.

Steamboat continues play in the Steamboat Shootout at 5:10 p.m. today against Basalt, a preseason top 10 team in Class 3A.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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