Win in Palisade will put Sailors atop league


— Now is the time for the Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team to separate itself from the rest of the league.

With Glenwood Springs falling to Rifle on Wednesday - each are top league teams that Steamboat has beat - the Sailors have a chance to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the Western Slope League starting this weekend.

Steamboat plays at 7:30 p.m. tonight in Delta and at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Palisade.

While Delta has struggled this season, Palisade is tied with Steamboat at the top of the standings. The two teams have 9-2 overall records and 3-0 league marks.

"Nobody else in our league runs a system even remotely close to the Palisade system," Steamboat coach Kelly Meek said. "They've knocked off some really good teams."

Meek said Palisade's frantic style of play is buoyed by the team's balance.

Three Palisade starters average in double figures, led by outside shooter Hank Stewart's 14 points a game. The Bulldogs have four other players averaging five or more points a game.

"We're the mark of everybody," said Meek, whose Sailors have won 19 consecutive league games. "Their crowd, their players and their coaching staff know that. Our energy level is important. We have to have high energy on the road."

Although Palisade is the marquee matchup of the weekend, Meek said the initial focus is on Delta.

Delta doesn't play the up-tempo style of Palisade, but Meek said the team can create problems with its multiple sets and multiple ball screens.

"I think our defensive system is built very well for (seeing different offenses)," Meek said. "We're set right now on Delta. As soon as we come off that game, we'll give all our stuff to our kids about Palisade."

One advantage Steamboat should have this week is that the players are well rested. Meek admitted after last Saturday's 55-51 win against Glenwood Springs that Steamboat was sluggish after playing three games in five days.

"I feel real good about our kids," Meek said. "They're disciplined in their travel habits, and our practices have been solid. We have to take that and turn it over into the games now."

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

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