Steamboat Springs Behind Bayli Stillwell's 19 points and six rebounds -- both team highs -- the Steamboat Springs girls basketball team defeated Palisade 47-27 Saturday.
The victory moved the eighth-ranked Sailors to 10-0 overall and 3-0 in the league. Perhaps even more impressive is that Steamboat has beaten all three of its league opponents by at least 20 points.
Coach Steve Moos said Palisade was certainly the best competition his team has seen in Western Slope play thus far.
"We struggled somewhat offensively," Moos said. "They were physical. They didn't really let us cut. We were trying to force things inside and were impatient at times."
Granted, any night would have been tough to compare to Steamboat's near-flawless performance on Friday -- 60-11 embarrassment of Delta.
In reality, Moos said, recent competition --r lack thereof -- in Delta and Battle Mountain may have contributed in part to some of Steamboat's miscues on Saturday.
Bad habits can develop when a team begins believing it can do no wrong.
"You start playing defense differently and we were out of position a lot in the first half," Moos said.
Stillwell said she noticed her post defense in particular wasn't where it should be 10 games into the season.
"The posts weren't fronting," she said. "Even though they didn't score much, you can feel when they are getting good position."
Once again, however, the Sailors used an intensity-filled first several minutes of the third to push a comfortable 12-point halftime lead to an even cushier 22 points.
Senior Tracy Lucas scored the opening two minute s of the half, then Stillwell took over down low, scoring Steamboat's next seven points, including her fifth and sixth point of the night off the most basic of inbounds plays.
Essentially, Stillwell plants herself under the basket. Remarkably, she was open nearly every time the Sailors ran the play.
"I was a little surprised," she said. "We run that in practice and I wasn't sure if that would ever work in a game."
Halfway through the regular season, there is little the Sailors aren't doing well at this point. Unblemished and confident, Steamboat has nearly one week to prepare for rival Moffat County.
Stillwell was a freshman the last time the Sailors beat the Bulldogs. But Moos and assistant Tara Arroyo, who used to play for Steamboat, said it realistically could be eight years since Steamboat's varsity team has won this game, which is why Moos believes his team is the underdog, regardless of his team's record and state ranking.
"It should be a really fun game," he said. "But we're the underdog. Until we beat them we're not going to have our goal of winning a league title. Even if we go 17-2 and those two loses are to Moffat County, we still don't win the league."
The game between Steamboat and Moffat County is at approximately 6 p.m. Friday in Craig.
--To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org