The Steamboat Springs Sailors got off to an early lead over the two-time defending league champion Rifle Bears in the first quarter of their 55-46 victory. But the Sailors started to slip as they "got married to the three-point line," Steamboat coach Kelly Meek said.
Five Steamboat players shot a combined seven shots from three-point range in the first half, and only the last one fell through the hoop.
"We got married to it alright," Meek said. "But once we got away from that, we got inside and got fouled a lot."
The first and second halves were very different as Steamboat shifted from outside shooting to playing in the post. Down low, Devin Borvansky, or "D-Bo" as teammates call him, dominated. Borvansky scored 17 points, despite struggling from the free-throw line where he hit just one of seven shots. He also pulled down a game high seven rebounds.
"I just do what the team asks of me," Borvansky said. "And coach said we could beat 'em in the post, so that's what I tried to do."
Getting inside, Borvansky was fouled several times. He said a fall on his ribs earlier in the week seemed to throw off his free-throw shot.
Rifle, the two-time defending league champions, made a couple of offensive runs. The Bears scored six unanswered points to start the second quarter and scored a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Jim Owens to take a 1-point lead at halftime.
"We panicked from their full-court press early," Meek said. "Once we got over that, we played well.
"We did well rebounding, and we played really well defending their set plays. They are a physical team, and I'm excited for the way we defended them."
Despite hustling for loose balls and playing aggressively, the referees thought the Bears were too aggressive, calling many fouls. The Bears seemed visibly shaken; in the second half, Owens and coach Chris Lowther received technical fouls.
Steamboat improved to 8-2 overall, 3-0 in league play.