Steamboat Springs For the last 24 minutes of Thursday's tournament-opening game, the Steamboat Springs High School girls basketball team outplayed, outworked and outscored the Aspen Skiers.
It was the game's first eight minutes that doomed the Sailors, as they were unable to dig themselves out of an early hole before falling to the Skiers, 43-39, in the opening round of the Steamboat Shoot-Out.
"It was the start," said Sailors coach John Ameen, whose team outscored Aspen, 30-26, from the second quarter on. "It happened against Coal Ridge and it happened against Roaring Fork. As the game went on it got better, but the start absolutely killed us."
After Steamboat jumped out to a 2-0 lead, Aspen scored 25 of the next 32 points to take a commanding 25-9 lead late into the second quarter.
Then something happened.
Steamboat picked up its intensity with full-court defense. The Sailors scored the last seven points of the first half and went into the locker room down, 25-16.
"We started doing things right," Ameen said. "That's the result. I'm keeping that in mind."
Steamboat continued to chip away at Aspen's lead in the third quarter. The deficit was cut to four when forward Lizzie Stoll rebounded her own free throw miss, made a layup and was fouled on the play. Stoll converted the three-point play, bringing the score to 34-30.
Steamboat pulled within three points a little more than four minutes into the fourth quarter on another Stoll layup. The Sailors were still in the game until the final minute, when Aspen rebounded a missed 3-pointer and ran out the clock.
"I told the girls before the game we need to jump on them quick and see how they react," said Aspen coach Jeremy Haack, who earned his first varsity win as a head coach. "But give Steamboat credit. They fought back and they fought hard. They have a great group of girls."
Stoll led the Sailors with 18 points. Brittany Long added nine, and Gracie Stockdale and Shannon King each scored six.
"I think we're finally starting to play together," said Stoll, who added eight rebounds, five steals and four blocks. "Not one of us had that much varsity experience, so it took us a while to get the pace together, but you can tell this game was a lot more fun than the last one."
With the loss, Steamboat now plays Roaring Fork at 4:45 p.m. today. Last Saturday, the Sailors fell to the Rams, 58-28.
Ameen said he expects a different team to take the court today. Not only does Steamboat know more about Roaring Fork, but they're a much more confident group, Ameen said.
"We're much better than that first game," Ameen said. "We're still not as consistent as what we need to be, but definitely better in a lot of areas."