Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs junior basketball player Michael Vandahl proved he has recovered from recent knee surgery faster than his coaches and teammates expected.
After playing sparingly during the Sailors' first two games this season, Vandahl came out firing in Steamboat's opening-round game of the three-day Steamboat Shoot-Out tournament on Thurs-
Vandahl made three 3-pointers on his way to a team-leading 19 points, helping the Sailors cruise past Basalt, 66-39.
Steamboat opened the game with an Aaron Calkins 3-pointer followed by a three-point play converted by Colby Kostur. The Sailors' 6-0 lead set the tone for what quickly became a lopsided affair. Calkins and Kostur finished with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
"Steamboat shot well ear-
ly," Basalt coach Michael Green said. "They took us out of our flow, we got down on ourselves and they capitalized on our turnovers."
Green said his Class 3A Longhorns lost eight seniors from last season. With only one returning starter, Green said the game was more of a learning experience for his team.
After a rocky beginning for Steamboat, Vandahl set the tone for the Sailors, scoring 11 of the team's 21 first-quarter points. Calkins attributed Steamboat's early miscues and turnovers to the "jitters of the first home game."
"We didn't play well under pressure on offense," Calkins said. "We would kind of get big-eyed and catch the ball in a weak position, not squared up."
The Sailors hit a comfortable shooting stride in the second quarter, going on a 16-4 run. Vandahl's shooting touch was bolstered by sophomore Alex Wood's penetration inside the key.
The Sailors kept it going early in the second half, when Calkins hit a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 50-20.
That cushion allowed Steam-
boat coach Kelly Meek to give his bench players some time on the floor. Blake Weinstein came off the bench to grab a team-best six rebounds. Kostur also had six rebounds, and Tanner Stillwell added five.
"We cut our own momentum with the sub patterns," Meek said. With the various personnel combinations, Meek said his team struggled to find offensive continuity and is still trying to establish the right chemistry. Basalt took advantage of Steamboat's mixed units by outscoring the Sailors, 16-11, in the fourth quarter. Chaz Capobianco led the way for the Longhorns with six rebounds and nine points. Rory Johnson and Matt Heffernan each had six points.
"I'm positive about our improvement," Meek said. "But we definitely need to be a better defensive team."
Steamboat faces Aspen at 6:30 p.m. today at the high school.