Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs Shoot-Out has grown from a small regional event eight years ago into one of the most popular basketball tournaments in the state.
"It's like paradise in the winter form," Liberty coach Jim Masterson said. "We love it there. It's our team building every year. They put on a great tournament there, and we get a chance to get away from Colorado Springs and play some great basketball."
The tournament started in 1999 with Steamboat Springs and three other schools. Meek said the tournament grew quickly and has had full boys and girls brackets for the past several years.
"We never seem to have a problem filling this one," Sailors head coach Kelly Meek said.
Sixteen teams, eight boys teams and eight girls teams, will play games starting this afternoon at Steamboat Springs High school. Games will be held in both the new and old gyms at the high school and will continue Friday and Saturday. The girls title will be decided at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and the boys championship game is scheduled to begin at 8:15 p.m. Saturday evening.
This year, teams from Aspen, Conifer, Roaring Fork, Liberty, Basalt, D'Evelyn, Montrose and Steamboat Springs will compete on the boys side. The girls bracket will include Montrose, Falcon, Basalt, Woodland Park, Green River, Roaring Fork, Aspen and Steamboat Springs.
The Steamboat Springs High School boys team lost to Liberty 71-54 in the finals of last year's Shootout. If the Sailors want to make it back to this year's finals they will need to move past Basalt in the first round and then either D'Evelyn or Montrose in the second. D'Evelyn is ranked in the top 10 in the state in the 4A classification.
The Sailors are coming off a disappointing 59-39 loss to Roaring Fork at last weekend's Brenda Patch Tournament in Carbondale.
"I expect our team to respond positively this week," Meek said. "We didn't get after it last week and play with the sense of urgency we needed to win. I think we will turn things around this week."
Roaring Fork will be on the other side of the bracket along with defending champion Liberty, Conifer and Aspen.
Last season, the Steamboat Springs girls team went 0-3 in its home tournament, but new head coach John Ameen is hoping the girls can get off on the right foot this weekend.
"We're not really looking at what happened last year. We are looking at what we did last weekend and trying to find ways to improve on that performance," Ameen said.
The Sailors are coming off a 57-42 loss to Coal Ridge High School last Friday and a 58-28 loss to Roaring Fork on Saturday.
"We had spurts where we played well," Ameen said. "Roaring Fork has a very good program, but I don't think that they are 30 points better than we are."
He said if the Sailors can get past Aspen in today's opening round, the team would welcome a rematch with Roaring Fork. Roaring Fork will face Green River, Wyo., in the first round, and could end up facing Steamboat in the second round.
The other side of the bracket will have teams from Montrose, Falcon, Basalt and Woodland Park.