Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team weathered Rifle’s first punch, delivered one of its own and did just enough to win Friday, squeaking by 56-52.
Rifle, using a 1-3-1 defense, confused and stifled Steamboat in the early going, jumping out to a 19-9 first-quarter lead before Steamboat finally got things going.
The Sailors hit their first five shots of the second quarter en route to a 12-0 run to take a 21-19 lead at the 5 minute, 5 second mark of the second frame.
From there, however, it was back and forth.
“We knew they were going to make a run at us,” Rifle coach Chris Lowther said. “You’re never going to win or lose a game in the first half. We just encouraged them to keep playing hard.”
The third quarter spoke to the parity in the Western Slope League this season. In a game that saw 12 lead changes and five ties, each team took control in the third quarter.
The teams exchanged leads seven times in the quarter before Steamboat’s Charles Wood scored a basket at the end of the quarter to put Steamboat ahead, 43-40.
Up 44-43 with 5:40 left in the game, Sailors guard Isiah Forsyth hit a 3-pointer to push the margin to 47-43.
Rifle, which played most of the night without leading scorer Tyler Rust, who battled foul trouble, couldn’t get anything going in the final five minutes, and Steamboat was just good enough from the free-throw line to keep Rifle at bay.
“We knew we had to just stay with the game plan and keep chipping away,” Steamboat coach Luke DeWolfe said. “That point was picking up our defensive intensity to match theirs. At that point, it’s stay with it, get some turnovers and let our defense carry our offense.”
Wood led the Sailors with 20 points, and Jack Spady chipped in 10. Ryan Creech paced Rifle with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Ryan Davis added 12 points.
Steamboat plays at 5:30 p.m. today at Glenwood Springs.
Steamboat girls fall to Rifle team, 57-29
Like most teams in the Western Slope League, the Rifle High School girls basketball team took its lumps the past couple of seasons.
But that all seems to be changing.
In a battle for the top spot in the league, Rifle proved its simple philosophy of turning the other team over and keeping its turnovers to a minimum, cruising past Steamboat, 57-29, on Friday.
“Our coach talked to us and told us to play hard and normal,” said Bears guard Courtney Cordova, who stuffed the stat sheet with 22 points, 10 steals, eight assists, six rebounds and two blocks. “Our defense is pretty good. We work hard on that in practice.”
The Bears forced 17 first-half turnovers and used an 18-6 run to open the second quarter to run away with the game.
“They’re good. They’re fast, and they’re long,” Steamboat coach John Ameen said. “But at the same time, we gave a lot to them.”
Steamboat was out of rhythm all night. The team struggled with Rifle’s defense and couldn’t seem to get a shot to go down. The Sailors shot 10 of 49 from the field in the game.
In addition to Cordova, junior Tresa Berner added 21 points, nine rebounds and six steals.
Colleen King led Steamboat with 15 points and five rebounds.
“It feels good, but we’re not comfortable,” Rifle coach Stephanie Heald said. “We’ve got to do our work to make sure we stay on top. “
Steamboat plays at 4 p.m. today at Glenwood Springs.