Saturday, February 1, 2003
Steamboat Springs Rifle coach Chris Lowther waited for the run from Steamboat Springs.
He got it in the third quarter, as the Sailors boys basketball team trimmed a halftime deficit of 10 points to four with just more than three minutes left in the third.
But that was as close as the score got as the visiting Bears pulled away, winning 46-32 Saturday night.
"I thought the team did a nice job responding to the run," Lowther said. "We knew they'd make one because they play solid defense and hustle. Any team that can do that makes runs."
Rifle is currently atop the league standings at 6-0. Steamboat sits at 3-3 in the Western Slope after Saturday and 9-4 overall. On Friday, Steamboat lost at Glenwood Springs.
Following the win, Lowther confessed that Saturday's game plan wasn't too complex. He asked Rifle to emulate Steamboat.
"We wanted to play as good of fundamentals as they play," Lowther said. "Steamboat can really play so well."
And the Sailors truly have performed well at points this season, but coach Kelly Meek said his team hasn't played its brand of basketball in several weeks.
The Sailors have built a reputation around aggressive defense, good shot selection and smart decision making, but those traits have disappeared for stretches during their past several games.
"We're struggling right now," Meek said. "We need to be more fundamental in practice and carry it over into games."
The problems are enhanced by the fact that several of the starters haven't really been practicing. Illness has kept senior guard Cory Moore out for at least a week. Cody Sherrill and John Daschle have missed time as well.
"You still have to find a way to win," Meek said.
The Sailors got off to a solid start Saturday when sophomore Cameron Burney attacked the basket strong in the opening minutes, drawing a foul on Rifle's top post Ryan Shideler.
Burney made the free throw for the classic three-point play.
One minute later, Shideler returned the favor, tying the game. It was the last time the Sailors had a share of the lead.
For the next three and a half quarters, Steamboat fought to come back, but poor shooting coupled by defensive breakdowns prevented the Sailors from drawing any closer than four points.
Rifle did, however, provide Steamboat a chance. In the opening minutes of the fourth, the Bears turned the ball over and took some hurried shots, despite leading 29-22.
Daschle capitalized on his lone 3-pointer of the game at the 7:19-mark, cutting Rifle's lead to 29-25.
The Bears ran down the court and took another quick jump shot, but the Sailors countered with several hurried shots -- deep 3-pointers nonetheless -- and several turnovers, effectively taking them out of the game.
"We're rushing things offensively," Meek said. "We'll call something and they won't run it. We close the gap and everyone wants to take the shot instead of relying on what got us back in the game -- five guys working together."
Shideler led all scorers with 15 points. Burney had a team-high 13 points and seven rebounds for Steamboat. Daschle had nine points. Moore had six rebounds.
"We were playing so well earlier in the season," Burney said. "Now we need to be more confident. No more losses."