The Steamboat Springs boys basketball team's 13-game winning streak and bid to remain undefeated in Western Slope League play ended with Moffat County's 42-27 win on Tuesday in Craig.
Had the Sailors won, they would have clinched at least a share of the league championship, but the Bulldogs weren't about to let that happen on their home floor. Moffat County senior Cody Palmer said the team knew what was at stake for its rivals.
"But it wasn't on our minds, though," he said.
Instead, Palmer and his teammates seemed more concerned with avenging their one-point loss at the hands of the Sailors on Jan. 23.
And the Sailors seemed more concerned with everyone in the stands than what was happening on the floor.
"The kids did a terrible job following the game plan and weren't fundamental," Steamboat coach Kelly Meek said. "They got caught up in the crowd. We have to take this and learn from this and mature."
Moffat County controlled the opening possession, scored within the game's first 30 seconds and never trailed again, building as much as a 17-point lead midway through the third quarter.
Bulldogs coach Mike LeWarne said, however, he did not feel like his team had control of the game until there were 37 seconds left on the clock.
Steamboat closed to within seven at 23-30 with 2:35 left the fourth off a Henry Howard free throw. The Sailors were forced to foul, and the Bulldogs stepped to the line and made their free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
The loss was Steamboat's first since Dec. 6, a span of more than two months. In that stretch of 13-straight wins, Steamboat established itself as the front-runner for the league championship. Steamboat still controls how it finishes, holding a commanding two-game lead on the rest of the league, including Moffat County.
"The biggest thing is that they come back," Meek said of the Sailors. "But this should burn in their heart."
The Sailors were led Tuesday by junior Cameron Burney who scored 11 points, including all nine of Steamboat's points in the first half. Scott Peterson's basket at the 2:01 mark in the third was the first basket scored by someone other than Burney.
The Bulldogs' guards held the Sailors' guards in check. And while Moffat County is a strong defensive team, the emergence of several scorers other than senior Anthony Loughran or sophomore Derek Duran is a welcome sign.
Palmer led all scorers with 16 points Tuesday, including several big threes. Sophomore Zach Haddan added 11 for the Bulldogs, as well.
"Since Christmas break, Cody has really stepped up," LeWarne said. "We need other scorers, and he's always played such good defense."
Palmer, who said rivalry games such as Tuesday's are the most fun to play in, said it's about time he started producing offensively.
"My shots are starting to fall," he said. "Finally, they are starting to fall."
With the win, Moffat County improved to 9-7 overall and 6-3 in league play. Steamboat fell to 13-3, 8-1.
The Sailors return to action at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Rifle.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org