Steamboat Springs High School senior Tara Spitellie drives past coach John Ameen during practice Wednesday. Spitellie is the second-leading scorer this season for the Sailors.

Photo by John F. Russell

Steamboat Springs High School senior Tara Spitellie drives past coach John Ameen during practice Wednesday. Spitellie is the second-leading scorer this season for the Sailors.

Steamboat basketball player expands role as shooter

Spitellie finds her mark

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— Steamboat Springs High School senior basketball player Tara Spitellie figured her high school basketball career would be spent in the post banging down low and doing the dirty work. With her natural height, it just seemed like the right fit.

But as Spitellie’s game grew, so did her acumen for shooting. She started shooting from close. Then she moved a little farther back — and a little more.

Now, Spitellie might have the deepest range of any player on the Western Slope, boy or girl.

“I was always a post,” Spit­ellie said. “When I got into high school, (teammate) Hannah (Moore) and my dad and I were just shooting. I started to move farther and farther back. The farther I moved back, the more I liked it.”

It’s not uncommon to see Spit­­ellie 3 or 4 feet behind the 3-point line launching — and often making — shots.

And as the Steamboat girls basketball program has grown throughout the past four years, so has Spitellie.

“She’s seen firsthand where things were and the progress we’ve made,” Sailors coach John Ameen said. “Really all three seniors, her, Hannah and Katie (Lettunich), have put in a lot of time to better the team and the program as a whole.”

Spitellie’s role has expanded this season. After spot starts and filling in off the bench last season, Spitellie has been viewed more as a primary scorer this season.

She has scored in double figures in six of nine games and is second on the team in scoring at 12.6 points per game. Her 23 3-pointers also lead the team. Spitellie and Moore combine to make up one of the more dangerous scoring combos on the Western Slope.

But as far as Spitellie is concerned, her stats carry little weight. The senior admitted to looking at the stats just once this season after a game at the Steamboat Springs Shoot-Out.

“Normally, people will come up to me and ask what the score was and how many points I scored,” she said. “I only know if we won.”

With Steamboat at 4-5 after its pre-holiday schedule, the focus now turns to the beefy portion of season.

Steamboat enters league play at 6 p.m. Jan. 7 at Glenwood Springs — a team, along with Moffat County, expected to battle Steamboat for the top spot in the league.

Spitellie said the goal always has been to win a league title, and after getting to the state playoffs last year, anything less would be a major disappointment.

“It would be a huge deal,” she said. “That’s what we’re aiming for. It would be a dream come true. After doing it last year and being able to play up and go to Denver, it was an eye-opening experience.”

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