A quick glance at the Steamboat Springs boys basketball schedule is all one needs to understand how important today's and Saturday's games are for the Sailors.
Steamboat plays at 7:30 p.m. today against Palisade and at 5:30 p.m. Saturday against Delta. Both games are in Kelly Meek Gymnasium.
If the Sailors want to compete for a league title, they'll have to get off to a fast start in their home games.
Including last weekend's contests, Steamboat (5-5 overall, 2-0 in the Western Slope League) plays six of its first seven league games at home. Coach Luke DeWolfe said for a team still trying to find an offensive identity, winning the ones at home is essential.
"Down the road, if we're looking at bigger and brighter things, these are wins we definitely need to have," DeWolfe said. "It's all a process, and you don't look too far ahead into the future, but these are games we definitely want to win at home."
Although Palisade and Delta come into the weekend with a combined record of 3-12, DeWolfe expects each to give the Sailors their best shot.
"A lot of times, they look at us as a big game," said DeWolfe, whose Sailors have won 32 straight league contests. "They come into our place and try and upset us. We'll always get teams playing their best against us."
As has been the case throughout the season, DeWolfe said the Sailors success will hinge on their defensive effort. While the offense has been slow to break out, DeWolfe said Steamboat's defense has carried the team.
"That's where it always starts for us," he said. "Hopefully we'll put it together on the offensive end. It's getting better, and hopefully, it continues to get better."
Girls look to rebound
Coming off a two-point loss to Eagle Valley last Saturday, Steamboat Springs girls basketball coach John Ameen didn't have to look far for an answer - the Sailors shot only 16-of-55 from the field.
"If we start making shots, we're tough to beat," Ameen said.
So as Steamboat (4-6 overall, 1-1 in league play) gears up for two more home league contests - 6 p.m. today against Palisade and 4 p.m. Saturday against Delta - Ameen said the focus has been on offensive consistency.
"We've always been defensive emphasis," Ameen said. "The big thing is whether it's half or full court. If we're emphasizing that, we're also making ourselves better offensively."
While Palisade and Delta have struggled this season, Ameen said both teams present some problems for the Sailors. Palisade has girls that can score inside and out, and Delta returns most of its starters from last year's squad.
Still, Ameen is confident the Sailors can come away with two wins.
"Despite it being finals week and it being hectic for the kids, we've had three pretty good practices this week," Ameen said. "The focus has been here and the intensity has been here."