Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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There were so many things that defined the Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team this year.
But maybe the most defining and well-rounded picture of this year's Sailors came in Friday's 67-61 loss against Pueblo West.
There are times in sports when a loss can mean more than any amount of wins. Anything a person wanted to learn about this year's Steamboat team, they could have learned from the fourth quarter of Friday's game and on.
Although Steamboat's play was out of character - and probably the worst the team has played in two years - the things that truly characterize this team were never more apparent.
You could start in the first three quarters, when Steamboat looked nothing like the team had all year. Each player looked beyond frustrated. Part of that was Pueblo West's play, part was that Steamboat seemed out of sync as a team.
But that's when Steamboat started to show its character.
It would have been easy to wilt.
But the Sailors didn't.
Senior Michael Vandahl - as he has done all year - helped lead the Steamboat charge. Vandahl hit two 25-footers and grabbed back-to-back rebounds. Steamboat turned an eight-point deficit into a tie at 54.
While Pueblo West would go onto win by hitting its free throws down the stretch, just to come back showed one portion of what Steamboat's all about.
As Steamboat coach Kelly Meek said, the Sailors were in a bad spot. Pueblo West was winning everything, from rebounding to loose balls. But that's when the senior-laden Steamboat team responded.
They wouldn't quit.
Many of the Sailors came into the program together. It was only fitting, then, that at the end of the game, the team walked out together. There weren't any individuals filtering out. They came in as a team, they went out as a team.
Although everyone on the team would have liked to go out with a win, this is a loss that showed the redeemable qualities of the Steamboat Springs basketball team.
Their final game may have been a losing cause, but it defined them as winners.
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