Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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Anyone who was worried the Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team would take a step back this year might have missed out on the past weekend.
Against Palisade and Delta on Friday and Saturday, respectively, Steamboat looked every bit the team that has won 34 straight games in the Western Slope League. The team shot 57 percent from the field against Palisade and had all but decided the Delta game in the first 16 minutes.
But it shouldn't have come to anyone's surprise.
Sure, a slow start was expected. The Sailors changed coaches, inserted four first-time starters and are relying on two sophomores at the point.
But as coach Luke DeWolfe has been saying all along, this team has the ability to compete hard.
The only problem - at least early on - was finding any kind of offensive congruity. Where in past years Steamboat generally had at least one go-to player, that role hadn't been defined yet this year. Judging by the results from the weekend, Steamboat might not need a go-to player. The Sailors had four players score in double figures Friday and four in double figures Saturday.
While the offense has been stagnant at times, the reason people should have known - and should always know - that Steamboat eventually would be fine was its defense. The Sailors have given up more than 50 points just twice in 11 games this season. In four league games, the Sailors are giving up fewer than 33 points a game.
Now, with the offense seemingly clicking and sophomore guards Isiah Forsyth and Charles Wood - get ready to enjoy these two in the open court for the next couple years - playing with confidence, the Sailors have everything in place to make another run at a league title.
Although they won't always shoot like they did against Palisade, Steamboat will have every opportunity to win games with its defense and balance.
Granted, the schedule has worked in Steamboat's favor so far. The Sailors have played six of their first seven league contests at home. For a young team learning to win, that's a gift from the basketball gods.
The next test for the Sailors will be learning to win on the road. Of their final 10 games in the league, seven of them are away from the Kelly Meek Gymnasium.
That includes tilts with league favorites Glenwood Springs and Moffat County.
While the next 10 games will tell us a lot about the Steamboat boys basketball team, the body of work from the past two weeks should speak for itself.
- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org