There's defense, and then there's the brand of defense the Steamboat Springs boys basketball team played in a 43-33 win against Rangely on Thursday.
The Sailors limited Brian Skelton's interior opportunities and prevented Greg Skelton and Luke Scott, the Panthers' most dangerous three-point shooters, from getting open shots en route to the 10-point win that didn't seem that close.
"We took their offense away," Steamboat coach Kelly Meek said simply.
Rangely entered Thursday's game undefeated and fresh off a 74-point performance against Plateau Valley on Dec. 13, but it's a guarantee the Panthers had not seen a defense like the one they encountered Thursday night.
"They try to get the ball into the post a lot," senior Nick Monterotti said. "And a lot of their plays they run to spots. We knew where they were going."
Steamboat (5-2) spent the duration of Wednesday's practice working on defending Rangely in the half-court set. Meek said it took all of practice before everyone figured out what they needed to do as a team.
Thursday, it was obvious the Sailors had prepared well.
Keying the defense down low was Monterotti and senior Devin Borvansky who doubled Brian Skelton every time he touched the ball. The junior ended up with 12 points, and Greg Skelton scored 14, but Meek said he wasn't disappointed in the brothers' offensive output because they had to work hard for those points.
Out on the perimeter, every time Rangely went to screen near the top of the key, Steamboat's perimeter players switched, leaving little room to pass inside.
"The kids followed the rules really well," Meek said on his team's defense. "The thing I like about this team is they have a lot of heart. We've played five games in eight days, including two overtime games."
And the Sailors have won them all to head into the holiday break on a five-game winning streak.
Rangely suffered its first loss of the season but may retain its top-ranking because Steamboat is a 4A school. Despite the apparent ease with which the Sailors won Thursday, Meek said Rangely is a talented team with excellent players.
The difference was that the Sailors executed its overall game plan better.
Offensively, the Sailors did nothing fancy. They worked the ball inside to Monterotti when possible and swung the ball around well on the perimeter to create plenty of open looks from behind the arc.
Junior Patrick Ayres led the way with 13 points for Steamboat, including 10 in the second half. Monterotti added 12 points and eight rebounds. Senior Kyle Re had 9 points, while Borvansky pulled down a team-high nine rebounds and dished out a team-high five assists.
Thursday, Steamboat's JV team beat Rangely, 56-52. Steamboat's freshmen won 31-28.
Steamboat doesn't return to action until Jan. 9 when it opens the league season on the road at Delta.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org