Somewhere between Tuesday's 35-point loss to Moffat County and Friday's tip against Eagle Valley, Steamboat Springs girls basketball coach Ashley Berggren aand her seniors had a sit-down.
"They decided where they wanted to go as a team," Berggren said.
Apparently, that direction was up.
The Sailors defeated the Devils, 53-32, on Friday night, getting balanced scoring, but more important, an inspired effort on defense. Eagle Valley senior Rachel Sandoval was the lone Devil in double digits. She finished with 11 points.
"It feels so much better," senior Ann Barney said about winning by 21. "This is a starting point."
Steamboat and Eagle Valley were tied at 11, after the first quarter, but the Sailors started to extend their lead in the second, building a 21-16 lead by halftime.
Steamboat generated easy baskets off its defense, getting in passing lanes, and senior Missy Chotvacs made dribbling the ball frustrating for Eagle Valley's guards.
"We've had no team chemistry," Berggren said. "I figured the best way to start creating it was on defense, to force them to communicate."
The Sailors got defensive during practice Wednesday and Thursday. It showed Fri--day.
"It was more us putting everything together as a team," said Barney, who finished with seven points.
Sandoval came out of the locker room and hit a big 3-pointer, bringing the Devils to within two points. Chotvacs scored off an offensive re----bound, giving Steamboat a 23-19 lead.
Sarah Reed came back down the floor and hit another 3-pointer for the Devils, but Steamboat's Erin Gleason scored in transition, and Chotvacs got two steals and scored two baskets in transition, pushing the Sailors' lead back to 29-22.
Eagle Valley coach Jamie Mayne called a timeout. She credited Steamboat with a great second-half effort on defense.
"We were getting the shots we wanted in the first half," she said. "Toward the end, we were frustrated."
Steamboat went on a 10-3 run to end the third quarter, sealing the win.
Eight Steamboat players scored, led by Chotvacs' 16 points, including 13 in the second half. Senior Jessica Peters scored eight points, and Gleason and Barney each had seven.
Steamboat hit shots from the perimeter, but most of its points came down low, on high percentage shots -- often in transition.
"We are really quick," Barney said. "Everyone can get down the court. That's what we've been looking to do."
Chelsey Lueders, Reed and Amanda Padilla each scored five points for the Devils.
The win moves Steamboat to 3-9 overall and 1-2 in Western Slope League play. Up next for Steamboat is a 6 p.m. game today against Battle Mountain. The Sailors defeated the Huskies in the Roaring Fork Tournament on Dec. 3.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org