Thursday, February 24, 2005
Kayla Kostur didn't view her role as burdensome. She thought being a team leader would be more of a challenge.
As the only returning starter on this year's Steamboat Springs girls basketball team, not to mention the only player with significant varsity experience, Kostur needed to assert herself on offense early this season.
She hasn't let up. Frequently facing a zone or a box-and-one defense designed to contain the post player, Kostur consistently has put up double digits. She is the Class 4A scoring leader with an average of 19.5 points per game, according to statistics turned into www.rockypreps. com.
In the meantime, Kostur has watched her teammates grow confident and more comfortable around her, enabling the Sailors to win five of their past six games.
"As the season progressed, everything started clicking," Kostur said. "Opponents have realized they have to guard the whole team."
Steamboat (11-11 overall) opens the sub-regional round at 7:30 p.m. today against D'Evelyn (17-6) at Moffat County High School in Craig. The host Bulldogs (22-1) are the top seed in the Tonya Haave region.
D'Evelyn coach Tom Baker has just three seniors, but his team has put together one of the most remarkable turnarounds in the state. Last year, the Jaguars won six games. This year, they won 17.
"It's great seniors," Baker said. "It's great leadership. When I first started at the school, they didn't have a junior high program. All the girls I have now have come through junior high."
If Steamboat defeats D'Evelyn, it will face league foe Moffat County. The Bulldogs are a team the Sailors traditionally struggle against but nearly upset several weeks ago in Craig. The narrow loss was almost as good as a win for Steamboat.
"Losing by two was such a confidence booster," Sailors coach Ashley Berggren said. "They believe in themselves. I think the girls are really excited about this weekend -- to play D'Evelyn and possibly play Moffat County."
There was some uncertainty as to how the season would unfold when Berggren took over the program after Steve Moos resigned last year. She had no previous head coaching experience at the high school level and knew little about league opponents.
After the team got off to a 2-7 start, it rebounded to finish 11-11. What was most impressive was the team's 5-2 record in league play the second time through. One of those wins came against runner-up Rifle. The two losses were to Moffat County and Eagle Valley by a combined 10 points.
Berggren is Kostur's third high school coach in four years. Kostur began her high school career at Hayden, where she played for two seasons before transferring to Steamboat for her junior year.
Her family lives in Hayden, and she attends Hayden games whenever she can. Watching the Tigers have a successful season has been enjoyable, as well, Kostur said, but she has no regrets about her decision to transfer.
Her younger brother, Colby, also attends Steamboat Springs High School and plays basketball.
"It was hard leaving everything I was used to," Kostur said.
But Kostur has flourished in a Sailors uniform and also competes in track and field. She would like to continue playing basketball in college but isn't sure where she wants to go to school.
"I'm in the process of talking to several coaches," Kostur said.
She acknowledges she likely will be moved to the outside in college because there is little demand for 5-foot-9 post players. This season, Kostur has stepped out and made perimeter shots when needed and has done an excellent job driving into the lane and drawing fouls.
Improving in all facets of her game has been her personal season goal.
But Kostur plays within the team concept, knowing the further Steamboat advances in the playoffs, the more basketball everyone gets to play.
"I couldn't do anything without my teammates," she said.