Steamboat basketball squads prep for pivotal games

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If you go

What: Steamboat boys and girls basketball vs. Palisade

When: Today; girls at 6 p.m., boys at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Steamboat Springs High School

Tickets still available for Prep Pro Series

What: Denver Nuggets Prep Pro Series games featuring Steamboat Springs High School’s varsity basketball teams

When: Thursday; Sailors girls play at 2 p.m., boys play at 3:30 p.m.

Where: Pepsi Center in Denver

Cost: $55 for lower level corner, $30 for the upper center balcony, $20 upper corner balcony. Tickets include admission to the Nuggets game against the San Antonio Spurs later that night.

Contact: Luke DeWolfe at 871-3640 or ldewolfe@sssd.k12... or John Ameen at 871-3647 or jameen@sssd.k12.co.us.

Deadline: Wednesday

— The Steamboat Springs High School boys and girls basketball teams enter a pivotal stretch of their seasons this weekend, with games today against Palisade and Saturday against Delta. With both Steamboat teams in second place in the Western Slope League, there’s no doubt they’re in control of their own destinies.

The Sailors girls play at 6 p.m. today against Palisade and at 4 p.m. Saturday against Delta. The boys play at 7:30 p.m. today against Palisade and at 5:30 p.m. Saturday against Delta.

“They have a lot to gain by beating us,” said Steamboat boys coach Luke DeWolfe, whose team is 10-6 overall and 7-1 in league play. “It really puts the pressure on us to get them. Playing them once now, they have a good feel for what we like to do. You have to make fewer mistakes than each opponent.”

DeWolfe, whose team already has beaten Palisade and Delta this season, said the key will be rebounding and finishing around the basket.

The Sailors have been outsized in nearly every game, which puts a premium on rebounding the basketball. The team also has struggled to find offensive consistency.

With Rifle and league-leading Glenwood Springs on the schedule next week, DeWolfe thinks the Sailors need to win out if they want a shot at the league title.

“I think it’s going to come down to that, realistically,” he said. “You never know. There is a lot more equity in the league this year. The reality is you don’t want to get into that guesswork. Win and we control our own destiny that way.”

It’s a similar situation for the Sailors girls. Steamboat is in second place in the league and has four games that could decide the rest of its season.

Steamboat beat Palisade and Delta by just one point earlier this season. Sailors girls coach John Ameen said playing teams a second time has its positives and negatives.

But with the way Steamboat (12-4, 7-1) has played, he sees it as an advantage.

“They’ve been very good at scouting reports this year and focusing on what we have to do each game,” he said. “I like to think we have that advantage coming in.”

The girls have been battling sickness all week, and Ameen said he could be without several starters. Regardless, he said he’s confident in just about any of his players filling in.

“It wasn’t a cake walk, and it wasn’t easy the first time,” he said about this season’s previous games against Palisade and Delta. “We’ve had a couple days of good practice. It’s just the task at hand.”

Hockey looks to rebound during weekend matchups

The Steamboat Springs High School hockey team also is entering the stretch run of its season, which just happens to be its busiest stretch of the season, as well.

Starting at 5:30 p.m. today at Pueblo County, and continuing at 7 p.m. Saturday at Valor Christian, Steamboat will play six games in nine days. It’s the most pivotal stretch for the Sailors as they look to secure a top seed in the state playoffs.

“We need to win every game from here on out,” Steamboat coach Jeff Ruff said. “Our goal is to be the No. 1 seed in the conference. We could get help from other teams, but we don’t want to be in a position to get help. Our goal is to go down to the Front Range and win hockey games.

“We’re real focused on the task, and we’re playing with a lot of confidence.”

Steamboat, at 8-3-2, is in third place in the Peak Conference. Pueblo County and Valor Christian are middle-of-the-pack teams, and on paper, Steamboat should have the advantage.

But the Sailors are coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to Doherty, and Ruff said it’s not just about winning anymore, but also looking sharp in the process.

“We’re always shooting for the higher playoff seed,” he said. “Right now, we do have a legitimate shot to take that conference championship. The guys are pretty determined on that.”

— To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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