Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs As each year passes, it’s increasingly easy to guess the bracket of the Steamboat Springs Shoot-Out basketball tournament.
In its 12th year, the tournament usually draws most of the same teams from the year before. That’s not by accident.
The pre-holiday tournament rapidly has progressed into one of the best in the state. Teams want to come to Steamboat Springs for a plethora of reasons. The travel to the Western Slope, for most of the Front Range teams, serves as an early season team-building activity, and what better place to do it than Steamboat. Talking to coaches from various teams this weekend, it’s clear the Shoot-Out is one of the best-run tournaments in the state.
Games running on time, for example, show the organization of the tournament is second to none.
But the best part of the tournament is the competition. It’s hard to find a tournament this early with the depth the Shoot-Out consistently features.
High-quality teams dotted the boys and girls brackets throughout the weekend.
On the girls side, Montrose, Fossil Ridge and D’Evelyn are top-10 teams. On the boys side, Castle View, Windsor and Palmer Ridge all look to contend this year.
Closer to home in Steamboat, the boys and girls squads left the tournament knowing more about their respective teams.
Both teams certainly have questions to answer.
For the girls, it comes down to turnovers, as it has for the past four years. In two losses in the tournament, Steamboat had 52 turnovers. The Sailors struggled against presses throughout the weekend. The team has to find a way to limit turnovers, because its offense is good enough to win games.
On the boys side, the Sailors are tough to figure out. The team looked great for stretches and bad for others. If Saturday’s game proved anything, it’s that tempo is key to the Sailors season. But finding offensive consistency couldn’t hurt, either. Too often, the ball remains on the perimeter. The key player is senior forward Randall Nelson. If he can give the Sailors a post presence inside, the team improves tenfold. If not, it might be too much to ask of the guards to carry the team.
Do they practice layups at D’Evelyn? In two games against Steamboat, the boys and girls teams from D’Evelyn made 21 3-pointers and shot 67 of them. That’s a lot of 3-pointers. Threes are great if a team makes them. But the Jaguars insistence on hoisting threes ended up costing the boys’ Friday game against the Sailors.
The best player of the tournament? D’Evelyn sophomore guard Laura Tyree. She was outstanding and is as good a girls basketball player as I’ve seen in a long time. There isn’t much she can’t do. I imagine in two years, Tyree will be a hot prospect with Division I colleges.