Steamboat's Colleen King, right, breaks past a Falcon High School defender on her way to the hoop during the Sailors game in Steamboat Springs on Saturday.

Photo by Brian Ray

Steamboat's Colleen King, right, breaks past a Falcon High School defender on her way to the hoop during the Sailors game in Steamboat Springs on Saturday.

Girls ready for tough tourney

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Flaming Gorge Classic

- Steamboat girls vs. Kemmerer, 5:30 p.m. today at Rock Springs High School

- Steamboat girls vs. Cheyenne Central, 10 a.m. Friday at Lincoln Middle School

- Steamboat girls vs. Sheridan, 10 a.m. Saturday at Green River High School

— Last year at this time, the Steamboat Springs High School girls basketball team hit a wall.

After progressing well between the Roaring Fork and Steamboat tournaments, the Sailors improvement tapered off. This year, coach John Ameen is out to avoid that kind of decline.

He knows this year's group is much better, but as the team approaches its opening game in the Flaming Gorge Classic Basketball Tournament, today at 5:30 p.m. against Kemmerer, Wyo., Ameen knows the progression must continue.

"It's still that, because while caliber of teams is still high, I just want to be able to - like I walked away from the Shoot-Out - know that we're still improving," said Ameen, whose team also plays at 10 a.m. Friday against Cheyenne Central and 10 a.m. Saturday against Sheridan, both Wyoming teams. "It's knowing that we made a step from last weekend."

That step begins on the offensive end, where Steamboat showed flashes during the Shoot-Out, but struggled to score for the most part.

Although the Sailors were stellar on defense, Ameen said improving the team's offense is more about tightening "up loose ends" than making wholesale changes.

Ameen said during the Shoot-Out, it wasn't that the Sailors didn't get shots, it was that too many times they came away with empty possessions.

"We've had a couple good days of practice of focus and intensity," Ameen said. "We really cleaned up on the offensive end."

One change to the offense will be a new post-oriented attack, to use the skills of forwards Colleen King, Lizzie Stoll and Darcy Hornstein.

"We want to get the post more touches," Ameen said. "Hopefully that will spring some stuff in our motion offense."

Much like the Shoot-Out, Steamboat should see a high level of play in the Flaming Gorge tournament, with No. 1 Sheridan and No. 3 Central at the top end of girls basketball in Wyoming's Class 4A.

"It's good for us to see how we've improved," Ameen said. "It's good to see how we go against these good teams."

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