Sports briefs: Steamboat girls basketball team ready for tournament

Sailors girls hoops squad opens against Wheat Ridge

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If you go

What: Class 4A state tournament

When: The Steamboat girls play at 5 p.m. today against Wheat Ridge. The boys play at 7 p.m. against Longmont

Where: Girls at Broomfield, boys at Longmont

What: Class 2A district tournament

When: The Hayden girls play at 3 p.m. today against Rangely. The Hayden boys play the Soroco boys at 4:30 p.m.

Where: Rangely High School

— It’s just another game, Steamboat Springs High School girls basketball coach John Ameen told his team. But from here on out, they’re all the biggest game of the season.

The girls team opens its run in the Class 4A state basketball playoffs at 5 p.m. today in Broomfield. The No. 4 seed Sailors, who got a bye in the first round, will square off against No. 5 Wheat Ridge, which defeated Silver Creek on Tuesday, 43-31.

“We didn’t really talk about it that much,” Ameen said about the pressure loaded on the team, now playing in a win-or-go-home format. “We just said let’s go down there, and let’s play. This is a team we can beat, so let’s get a win.”

Wheat Ridge enters the game a battle-tested 17-6 and winners in five of its past six. The Farmers were third in the JeffCo league.

“They are physical, and they play an aggressive zone defense with some trapping,” Ameen said. “They’re awfully good, but at the same time, if we play our game, we’re going to be right there.”

A win would set the girls up to play either No. 1 Broomfield or No. 8 Mitchell at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Sailors boys basketball team ready for revenge

The Steamboat boys basketball team advanced to the second round of the 4A state playoffs by only the narrowest of margins, a 2-point victory Tuesday at home.

Now, the squad is hoping it can pull off a mighty upset for an encore. The Sailors play the top-ranked team in their bracket today, No. 1 Longmont. It’s a tall challenge, coach Luke DeWolfe said, but one his team might uniquely be prepared to handle. The Sailors lost to the same team last season in the playoffs.

Longmont, then a No. 3 seed, won that game, 48-40, and ended up advancing the Great Eight.

“Only losing by 8 last year, that gives our kids a lot of confidence knowing we can compete, and we can beat this caliber of a team,” DeWolfe said.

Steamboat trailed by as much as 17 in that game but charged back in the second half.

“We are confident, but we know it will take a great effort on our part,” DeWolfe said.

Hayden, Soroco hoops teams head to Rangely

The Hayden and Soroco high school boys basketball teams have been here, and they know what happens.

“Hayden presents a lot of problems for us,” Soroco coach Sam McLeod said. “They’re extremely long, extremely fast, extremely athletic, and they have good perimeter shooters.”

Hayden won the first matchup between the teams this season, 46-37, and the second, 76-46.

Still, McLeod and his Rams are hoping that their injury-rattled team will click and that this go-around might be different. The teams will meet at 4:30 p.m. today in Rangely for the semifinal round of the Class 2A District 5 tournament.

Soroco played well through the middle part of the season but actually struggled when two players, Cody Miles and Pie Lombardi, returned to its starting lineup late in the season.

“We definitely haven’t found our continuity since then,” McLeod said. “We still haven’t reached our peak. We have another level we can get to.”

The winner advances to a championship game, set for 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The consolation game is at 11:30 a.m.

Hayden’s girls, meanwhile, open their weekend today with a 3 p.m. game against Rangely. A win would set the Tigers in the championship game at 1 p.m. and a loss would put them in the 10 a.m. consolation game Saturday.

“We have a tough battle, but we’re ready for it,” Hayden girls coach Eric Hamilton said.

None of Routt County’s 2A teams will end their season in the Rangely tournament. The weekend’s games decide only seeding for the regional tournament, which will be played out across the state next Friday and Saturday.

The winner of the four-team regional tournament advances to an eight-team state tournament.

The Hayden girls lost both district games a year ago and went on to win the region, advance to state and place third.

That’s not to say the games don’t matter, however. A poor draw in the regional tournament could be a killer. That thought might even leave some teams incredibly unmotivated in the district consolation game. The first- and third-place teams from the fifth district will play in the same regional, a daunting challenge if you’re the third-place squad knowing either the Paonia girls, perfect in the Western Slope league, or the Meeker boys, undefeated this season, stand in the way of a ticket to state.

“It really matters which region you go to. Last year, we didn’t come in to districts prepared, and it turned out good for us, but this year, we really want to get in that championship game,” Hamilton said. “We really want another shot at Paonia.”

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