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Steamboat boys hope to overcome size with versatility

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Boys basketball season schedule

2006 Steamboat boys basketball

Dec. 1 vs. Coal Ridge at Roaring Fork Tournament, 5 p.m.

Dec. 2 vs. Roaring Fork at Roaring Fork Tournament, 6:30 p.m.

Dec. 7 Steamboat Shootout, games start at 3 p.m.

Dec. 8 Steamboat Shootout, games start at 3 p.m.

Dec. 9 Steamboat Shootout, games start at 8 a.m.

Dec. 14 at Flaming Gorge Tournament, TBA

Dec. 15 at Flaming Gorge Tournament, TBA

Dec. 16 at Flaming Gorge Tournament, TBA

Jan. 5 vs. Rifle, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 6 at Glenwood Springs, 5:30 p.m.

Jan. 9 vs. Moffat County, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 12 vs. Delta, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 13 vs. Palisade, 5:30 p.m.

Jan. 19 vs. Eagle Valley, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 20 at Battle Mountain, 7 p.m.

Jan. 26 at Rifle, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 27 vs. Glenwood Springs, 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 2 at Delta, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 3 at Palisade, 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 9 at Moffat County, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 10 at Eagle Valley, 8:00 p.m.

Feb. 16 vs. Battle Mountain, 7:30 p.m.

Districts TBA

State playoffs TBA

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Michael Vandahl runs the ball downcourt as Sailors coach Kelly Meek looks on during the varsity team's practice Saturday afternoon.

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Kolby Costur, left, puts up a shot from under the basket under defensive pressure from Darren Burke during practice Saturday afternoon. The Sailors will travel to Roaring Fork Friday and Saturday for a tournament to start their season.

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Aaron Calkins runs an inbounds play during the Sailors varsity basketball practice Saturday afternoon. The Sailors will start their season Friday at the Roaring Fork Tournament.

— Cameron Petet is ready for his games to start meaning something. The Steamboat Springs senior spent the summer traveling to tournaments and the fall playing open-gym games with what head basketball coach Kelly Meek calls the core group of eight varsity players.

Anxious to begin the Sailors season Friday, Petet noted how much time these top eight players have spent playing with each other during the past three years.

"We'll know what someone's thinking," junior Richie Keith said about the team's chemistry before Saturday's practice. "You know when someone's going to cut or when someone's going to pop."

Meek said the group's cohesion will help a squad whose success he believes will be linked to their ability to scrap for rebounds on both ends of the court. The premium will be placed on physicality and positioning for this year's shorter lineup - the tallest players of Meek's starters are Petet and junior Aaron Calkins, both at 6 feet, 3 inches.

Calkins and junior Michael Vandahl, who Meek says stand out as a pair of the state's top players, are the team's only returning starters. While Vandahl recovers from knee surgery from a preseason injury, Meek has moved Calkins to the point guard spot.

Meek cannot be sure how long he will be without the scoring threat of Vandahl, but the Calkins move demonstrates the interchangeable nature Meek thinks his team possesses.

Take Tanner Stillwell for example. Meek called the 6-foot-1-inch senior his team's best overall defender and feels that he can play him at any spot on the floor.

"We're not tall, so guys have to be multi-dimensional," Meek said.

Meek noted how Petet could be deployed on the perimeter, but said he will utilize his size as a true post player.

Junior Colby Kostur returns from some starting appearances last season, and Meek will play the skilled shooter and improved defender in a forward off-wing or post position.

Rounding out the list of players competing for the fifth starting spot are Keith, junior Blake Weinstein and sophomore Alex Wood.

Senior Garrett Brew and the junior corps of Ryan Shaw, Taylor Anderson, Darren Burke, Connor Moore and Mac Marsh will fill the remainder of the 13-man varsity roster.

Meek is working out of a basic man-to-man defensive philosophy and an offense stressing controlled passing as he expands to more complex defensive systems and inserts a long list of 64 sets, formations and plays.

Describing the competition in the Western Slope League this year as "a wide-open scramble," Meek thinks the league landscape reflects Steamboat's situation.

"There's so many teams like us with young players," Meek said. "It's a question of who will replace the best and overcome losing their stud players and replace them with confidence."

If luck favors the Sailors in terms of key injuries, Meek thinks his group of players has the balance and potential to have one of the best shots to win the league.

Not a bad assessment from a head coach of 33 years who has won seven of the last 11 league titles.

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