Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs High School girls basketball team is undefeated through its first seven games, has stifled its past five opponents with a full-court press and brags a balanced scoring attack from its eight core players.
Too bad none of it counts.
"Unfortunately, the 7-0 doesn't really matter anymore," coach Steve Moos said. "It was nice for a while, but now we have to start over."
The Sailors' first seven games were against non-league opponents.
Friday's game at Battle Mountain begins the team's 12-game league schedule, when every game can make the difference between a high seed in the district tournament or an early end to the team's season.
While a couple of the Sailors' non-league opponents could play, league play will be a step up in competition.
"We'll definitely face much tougher teams in the league than we've seen so far," Moos said. "Moffat County is the favorite and Rifle has dominated the league recently. Glenwood Springs has one of its star players back and Palisade should be good."
The Sailors won five games in a seven-day stretch leading into winter break, when state rules stipulate coaches can't have any contact with their teams.
The timing of the break can disrupt a team's momentum, and post-break practices will be important to regain that momentum, Moos said.
Fortunately, the Sailors will have at least seven practices to prepare for the Huskies game and ready themselves for the tough league schedule.
"I don't know if anybody ever likes the break," Moos said. "We actually had a good practice (Thursday), and that's usually the one I dread -- the one after the break."
Moos encouraged his players to condition and practice during the layoff, and judging from Thursday's practice, most of them did, Moos said.
The team needs to improve its defensive rebounding and decrease the number of turnovers it commits, Moos said.
But the team's pluses far outweigh its minuses as the Sailors head into the second half of the season.
"I think our offensive balance (has been key)," Moos said. "All eight (players in the regular rotation) are capable of scoring and I think that really makes us tough to stop. Even if somebody's having an off night, I don't have to worry. It just opens it up for somebody else."
Defensively, the implementation of a full-court press has not only shut down opponents' offenses and worn down opposing players, but it has generated plenty of fast-break opportunities for the Sailors offense.
And if the Sailors continue to improve on both sides of the ball, all three of their preseason goals could be within reach: winning the league, winning the district tournament and making the state tournament.