The good news is that no one on the Steamboat Springs boys basketball team is afraid to take the outside shot. The bad news is that very few were falling Friday, so Steamboat had to win the old-fashioned way -- with fourth-quarter free throws and defense.
Behind junior Scott Peterson's defensive lock down off Glenwood Springs' sharpshooter Sean Flohr, and senior Cameron Burney's second-half refusal to lose in the paint, the Sailors survived a scare to win, 54-44, on Friday.
The last time the teams met, the Sailors won by 30. On Friday, Steamboat won by 10, and Flohr, who was averaging 21.6 points a game, had 12, including seven on free throws.
"We came in thinking we were going to win (easily)," said Burney, who finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds. "And that wasn't the case."
Instead, the Sailors found themselves even with the Demons, 33-33, heading into the fourth quarter behind an athletic front-line that hung with Steamboat on both ends of the floor. Sophomore post Ryan Foraker also finished with 12 points.
"You can see why they were picked to win the league in preseason," Sailors coach Kelly Meek said. "They go 6-foot-5, 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5 with kids that can shoot those little mid-range jumpers."
Despite a poor shooting night, Steamboat's players responded at the free-throw line, making 13 of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter. Burney made six, and Peterson made four in the game's final 6 minutes, 29 seconds. Burney's two free throws with 42 seconds left sealed the win for the Sailors, to keep them atop the Western Slope League with a perfect 9-0 mark.
Glenwood dropped to 4-4 in league play.
The scouting report on the Demons is to try to contain Flohr, who can score "11 points in a minute," Meek said. "I've seen him do it."
On Friday, Peterson did his best, playing all but the game's final 10 seconds, holding Flohr well below his average while dishing out four assists of his own. Peterson is Steamboat's designated defensive stopper and has been since his sophomore season.
"He's so focused and fundamental on defense," Burney said.
When Flohr did get free on the baseline, the Sailors did a good job rotating near the hoop to contest his shot.
An easy win would have been nice for the Sailors, who play Rifle at 7:30 p.m. today at Rifle. Steamboat senior point guard Dustin Moran did not get a breather either, and the Bears will be looking to pull even with the Sailors atop the league standings with a win.
But Rifle had a tough game of its own, pulling out a two-point win against Moffat County in Craig on Friday.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org