Steamboat girls face familiar foe

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— Of the 31 other teams in the regional bracket, the Steamboat Springs girls basketball team had to be paired against Lewis-Palmer.

The Sailors opened basketball regionals against the Rangers two years ago. In November, Steamboat's volleyball team played Lewis-Palmer twice at the state tournament, winning one match and losing the other.

Sailors Bayli Stillwell and Shelley Dunlop were members of that volleyball team. Stillwell played a prominent role in Steamboat's ride to a runner-up finish at the state tournament.

But Lewis-Palmer emerged the champion.

"It's like sour grapes," Stillwell said.

The two schools meet on the basketball court again tonight at 7 in Monument with a berth to the "Sweet 16" of the regional brackets on the line.

The Sailors found out Sunday who their opponent was, giving the team two days to practice and prepare for the Rangers.

Senior Jen Weber said it's similar to cramming for a test, but in this situation, she and her teammates already have the answers.

"We know what we have to do," she said.

The Rangers have worked their way to a 16-6 record behind dominant post play. Their two interior players, one of whom is volleyball standout Amy Bladow, average 35 points a contest.

The Sailors, on the other hand, played their way to a 17-5 record and a second-place finish at last weekend's district tournament behind balanced contributions. One year ago, Steamboat didn't even advance out of districts after entering as a No. 7 seed.

"It's surprising that a team can improve that much in one year," Weber said.

What also surprised Weber was that a team with a 17-5 record and a runner-up district finish could receive a No. 23 seed and be forced to travel to Monument to meet a team with one more loss and one less win.

Coach Steve Moos shared Weber's displeasure but said regardless of the game's location, his team must focus on what it needs to do to win.

Upon seeing that Steamboat was paired against Lewis-Palmer, Moos said, he picked up the phone and started calling around for scouting information.

"It helps to know people," he said.

Coaches from Grand Junction and other schools helped provide information to Moos on what to expect from the Rangers. It was the same approach Moos had to take prior to his team playing Montezuma-Cortez in the district opener.

Steamboat won that game 56-43.

The Sailors wouldn't mind.

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