Facing familiar faces

Steamboat to play Montrose in playoff game

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Steamboat Sailors basketball players Aaron Calkins, left, and Garrett Brew, right participate in a drill during practice in the Steamboat Springs High School gym Thursday. The Sailors are preparing for their upcoming playoff game Saturday.

— Same opponent, different circumstances.

When the Steamboat Springs boys basketball team takes the court in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs Saturday, it will see a familiar foe in Montrose.

Last year, as the No. 10 seed, the Sailors lost to the seventh-seeded Indians, 55-49, in the first round of the state playoffs.

This year, Steamboat enters the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the Jim Baggot region. The Sailors haven't lost since mid-December, and are arguably the hottest team in Class 4A.

Still, Sailors coach Kelly Meek said getting revenge against the Indians isn't Steamboat's main concern.

"It might be (motivation), but not for me," Meek said. "There are lots of teams in this tournament. We just know they killed us on the offensive boards last year."

Although the teams' records (the Sailors are 19-4 and the Indians are 11-11) may suggest the Sailors have a distinct advantage, Meek said his players have to be ready to encounter a team much like themselves.

Neither team plays with much size (Steamboat and Montrose's tallest starter stands 6 feet 2 inches), and Meek said Montrose plays a type of game based on pressure defense.

"What they do well, you want to do well," Meek said. "They are scrappy. They get after you and they dig."

Montrose - a 10th seed this year - advanced to the game after downing Summit on Wednesday, 49-40.

Montrose trailed for most of the game before taking the lead for good with 2 minutes, 31 seconds to go in the fourth quarter.

Meek - who was able to scout the Indians thanks to a first-round bye - said Montrose's poor shooting allowed Summit to stay in the game.

"We didn't play really well," Montrose coach Dwight Rawlings said. "Saturday is certainly going to be a challenge for us."

Montrose - who played a 5A schedule before dropping down to 4A for the playoffs - is led by Sean Maloney (13.5 points per game) and Kasey Tea (17.2 points per game).

While Rawlings is still trying to gather information on Steamboat, he said he does know the Sailors' strength lies in their guards.

"Steamboat's record speaks for itself," Rawlings said, whose team played in the Steamboat Shoot Out earlier in the year. "I was impressed with their play and their shooting guards. They shoot the ball so darn well. That's what concerns us the most."

Most of the time Montrose plays a zone, but Rawlings said the Indians will change defense depending on the team.

Against Summit, Montrose played zone defense for most of the game before switching to a man-to-man defense with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Meek said the key for Steamboat will be the ability to adjust to the varying defenses and remain patient on offense.

"We have to probe," he said. "We'll always take a good early shot but we don't want to fall in that trap of firing up quick ones."

The winner of Saturday's game plays the winner of the D'Evelyn-Pueblo Central game March 2. Time and place of that game have yet to be determined.

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