With the honeymoon phase of the season over, Steamboat Springs High School girls basketball coach John Ameen considers the final two losses at the Steamboat ShootOut a good thing for his team.
After beating Summit in the tournament's opening round to improve to 3-0 on the season, Steamboat suffered a pair of 30-point losses.
Ameen said those losses will help the Sailors prepare for this week's Flaming Gorge Classic Basketball tournament in Green River, Wyo. Steamboat (3-2 overall) opens at 5 p.m. today against Star Valley, Wyo. The team then plays at 8:15 a.m. Friday against Green River, Wyo., and at 1:30 p.m. Saturday against Rock Springs, Wyo.
"There is nothing wrong with losses as long as a team - you learn from them and take steps forward," Ameen said. "So that's what we need to do."
Those steps start on offense, Ameen said. In the Steamboat ShootOut, the Sailors struggled against teams that played high-pressure, man-to-man defense.
Ameen attributed part of the struggles to the fact that the Sailors hadn't played a lot of man-to-man defense. Even with the short week of practice, the team's focus has been on working against that type of pressure.
"It's really about handling any man pressure," he said. "That was really the only kind of pressure. It's slowing it down on the offensive end and still gaining the understanding and difference between a bad shot and a good shot. It's, 'What's the best shot we can get?'"
The key game for Steamboat might be Friday's showdown with Green River. In the ShootOut, Green River ran past Steamboat for an easy 30-point victory. Ameen knows his team isn't 30 points worse than Green River, and he said Friday's game could show how much Steamboat has improved.
"We came to practice focusing on what we need to do better," Steamboat junior Emi Birch said. "We need to play with intense defense. Teams pressured us and made us turn over the ball. We need to do that to them. We wanted to win them, but when you lose, you learn something from that."
With three games in three days against some of the top competition from Wyoming, Ameen said this tournament is a great way to prepare for the Western Slope League schedule when the team gets back from Christmas break.
"We want W's. We're at that point in our program that we want W's," Ameen said. ": Just as always, it's about improvement but wanting to also be competitive."
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