Randall Nelson tries to get a shot off through the Wasson defense Tuesday night at Steamboat Springs High School. The Sailors won a close game, 48-46, and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs, set for Friday at Longmont.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Randall Nelson tries to get a shot off through the Wasson defense Tuesday night at Steamboat Springs High School. The Sailors won a close game, 48-46, and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs, set for Friday at Longmont.

Sailors rally against Thunderbirds to avoid upset

Steamboat advances in state tourney; will face No. 1 Longmont

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Game statistics

Steamboat Springs 48, Wasson 46

Wasson — 14-12-12-8 — 46

Steamboat — 17-12-2-17 — 48

Wasson — Jackson Trujillo 4 1-2 9, Dylan James 4 2-2 13, Dexter Jackson 1 2-2 4, Tim Clemens 1 0-0 2, Seth Brown 1 0-0 3, Colton Simmons 2 3-3 7, Devon Burnett 4 0-0 8. Totals 17 8-9 46.

Steamboat — Randall Nelson 5 2-3 13, Justin Anderson 3 0-1 8, Connor Landusky 3 0-1 6, Jack Spady 2 5-6 9, Charles Wood 3 5-6 12, Eric Trousil 0 0-1 0. Totals 16 12-18 48.

3-pointers: Wasson (4) — James 3, Brown. Steamboat (4) — Anderson 2, Nelson, Wood.

— Steamboat Springs guard Charles Wood said there was no place he’d rather be.

“That’s why you play,” Wood said. “You lay in bed at night and think about moments like that.”

He was happy to be there, and so was his team. Wood came through with 6 seconds remaining and sank two free throws, capping a Sailors rally and avoiding a tough first-round loss Tuesday night in the Class 4A state basketball tournament.

Steamboat beat Wasson, 48-46.

Wood’s 2 points effectively ended what had the making of a nightmare game for Steamboat at home.

The Sailors appeared to be in control of the game and were up, 28-20, midway through the second quarter.

Whatever had been working went awry in a big way, however.

The Thunderbirds began to tear the Sailors up with a full-court press late in the second and all the way through the third quarter, taking advantage of the fact starting Steamboat guard Isiah Forsyth missed the game with a severe ankle sprain.

After that 8-point lead, Steamboat managed just three more points in the next 10 minutes of basketball. Wasson pieced together an 18-3 run and took the lead.

Those 3 points all came on free throws, and Steamboat didn’t convert a second-half field goal until the 7:34 mark of the fourth quarter.

“We came out in the third quarter and had five turnovers in a row. That allowed them momentum,” Steamboat coach Luke DeWolfe said. “We couldn’t recover from that.”

Steamboat’s defense almost entirely reversed the game in the fourth quarter.

It was the Sailors forcing turnovers and taking advantage. Devon Burnett, Wasson’s top player, was limited by foul trouble and held to just 8 points.

“Really, it was those turnovers we were able to get in the fourth quarter that made the difference,” DeWolfe said. “That allowed us to crawl our way back in.”

As the clock wound down, the score tightened.

Wood put his team up for the first time in the fourth quarter by scoring, drawing a foul and converting the free throw.

A pair of Wasson free throws tied the score back up and set the stage for Wood’s final drive.

Dylan James led Wasson with 13 points, and Randall Nelson paced Steamboat with 13, and Wood added 12.

Now, the Sailors face a test that should prove even greater than what they found Tuesday.

The team travels Friday to play against the No. 1 seed in its 11-team bracket, Long­mont.

“I’m believing,” Wood said. “I know we have a chance.”

— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail jreichenberger@steamboatpilot.com

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