Thursday, February 27, 2003
Steamboat Springs For all those who believe practice is overrated, look no further than the Steamboat Springs boys basketball team.
After a month of sporadic practice attendance because of injury and illness, the Sailors went hard -- with everyone -- for three straight days leading up to Thursday's district game against Montrose.
Steamboat won 61-56, advancing to the district's second round and assuring itself of a berth into next weekend's regional tournament.
"We really had some solid play," Sailors coach Kelly Meek said. "We played really well."
Meek was pleased with both the unselfish offensive and defensive performances turned in by his players Thursday night.
Seniors Kyle Nelson, Cody Sherrill and Cory Moore didn't have statistically great games, but they played some of their best basketball of the season at the most important time.
"Cory had to take on their top player (Bryce Carroll)," Meek said. "Cory only had two points but he never stopped working hard. Cody had five big defensive rebounds, and Kyle Nelson passed great. That's the best he has played in a long time."
Senior John Daschle led Steamboat with 25 points and eight rebounds, while sophomore Cameron Burney contributed 22 points and 13 rebounds.
"I could really sense the urgency in our players, and I really felt it from our seniors," Meek said. "All four starters came to play hard and played fundamental. With Cameron coming to play and hustling on both ends, that added a whole new dimension."
It was an all-out team effort that Steamboat really hasn't given since the beginning of the season, when it reeled off impressive wins over talented teams from Wyoming and Kansas.
"I like it," Meek said. "We had three good nights this week and with a game like this makes four."
Montrose entered as the No. 4 seed in this year's district tournament with an unimpressive 7-13 overall record and a 0-10 record in the Southwestern league. But the Indians play in the tough 5A league, and Meek said Montrose's record was certainly deceiving.
"They had three really strong players," Meek said. "Bryce Carroll had 14 points, but he had been killing people. He's a heck of a player. He's the best perimeter player we've seen."
Steamboat found itself down one at the end of the first quarter but up at the half 28-19. Midway through the third, Montrose closed the gap to 34-32, prompting Meek to call a timeout.
The Sailors designed a play to free up Daschle for a 3-pointer, which he made. On Steamboat's subsequent trip down the court, junior reserve Kyle Re had a putback for two points and hit a 3-pointer on the next possession, opening the Sailors' lead from two to 10.
"That was crucial because they were coming back," Meek said.
Steamboat shot 15-of-17 from the foul line Thursday, making Montrose's late-game foul efforts fruitless.
Up next for the Sailors is Western Slope champion Rifle today. The Bears have defeated the Sailors the previous two games.
"We're going to have to come up with a good game plan because they've handled us two times," Meek said.
Game time between Steamboat and Rifle is 8:15 p.m. at Mesa State in Grand Junction. The winner advances to the finals. The loser plays for third or fourth.