Steamboat's Kit Croop flies down the court Saturday in a scrimmage against Hayden.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat's Kit Croop flies down the court Saturday in a scrimmage against Hayden.

Steamboat boys basketball to rely on forwards

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— It’s one of those years, maybe more so than any other, when Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball coach Luke DeWolfe simply puts up his arms and isn’t totally sure what to expect. 

Entering his fourth year as coach, DeWolfe always has had some certainty in his lineup. There always were multiple returning starters and security blankets. But this year, the Sailors return one starter in senior Eric Trousil. The team has only two other players, Kit Croop and Jake Miller, that have seen significant action. 

“If we do the things we can, we could be in the mix for a league title,” DeWolfe said. “If we don’t, it could be a long season.”

That’s the two ends of the spectrum this Steamboat team is looking at, but there are reasons for optimism. 

Trousil and Miller should be two of the top forwards in the league. Croop and Miller also can play from forward to guard giving the team some hidden depth. 

Where things will look significantly different from past years is in the backcourt. 

Steamboat will be relying on a pair of first-time starters in Carter Kounovsky and Justin Ditter. Behind them, Enrique Lopez will provide some depth, along with Croop and Miller. 

But the development of Kounovsky and Ditter will go a long way in Steamboat’s ultimate success. 

“That’s always going to be the question for us,” DeWolfe said. “Is our guard play going to be as good as our post play so teams can’t just pack it in on us? We want to be a well-balanced team not just a post-balanced team.”

It was evident at a scrimmage with Hayden High School on Saturday that the two have the ability to start in the Western Slope League but still have a ways to go in their development. 

The two likely will have time to learn prior to the beginning of the league season. They’ll have three tournaments to play before league play gets under way. 

Steamboat also should be fine initially with Miller being the prime scoring option. Against a good Hayden frontline Saturday, Miller often was the best player on the court. 

“It’s fun for me and Eric to be relied on a lot more to score,” Miller said. “The biggest key is to exploit our mismatches down low with me, Kit and Eric. Other teams won’t match up well with us three. We got to exploit those matchups.”

The best news for Steamboat is that the league is as unsettled as it has been in a while. Palisade returns the most starters and could be considered the preseason favorite. After that, no one jumps out. 

Every team seems to be in a similar situation as Steamboat. The eventual league champion will be the team that has its young players step up the quickest. 

But the goal “is the same as it is every year,” Miller said. “We want to win the league and make the playoffs.” 

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com 

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