Steamboat Springs High School senior Eric Trousil puts up a shot during the first half of Saturday's game against Eagle Valley High School.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Springs High School senior Eric Trousil puts up a shot during the first half of Saturday's game against Eagle Valley High School.

Steamboat boys basketball can't overcome Eagle Valley

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Steamboat Springs High School senior Kit Croop brings the ball up the court during the first half of Saturday's game against Eagle Valley High School.

— Oh, that volatile Western Slope League. 

A night after giving Battle Mountain its first league win of the year, the Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team went to the wire with Eagle Valley, one of the league’s top teams.

But a questionable late call gave Eagle Valley’s Sam Lounsberry a pair of free throws and kept the Devils in the league race with a 46-44 win. 

“This is an escape win,” Devils coach Brent McConaghy said. “We knew every game was a must-win for us, and you never like to see Steamboat on the schedule.”

Despite the fact that Eagle Valley (16-5 overall, 8-2 in league) and Steamboat (6-13, 3-6) came in at opposite ends of the spectrum, the battle spoke to the parity in the league. 

Steamboat, a night after suffering its worse loss of the season, showed no ill effects from Friday’s letdown at Battle Mountain.

The Sailors jumped out to a 12-2 early lead and led 14-8 after one quarter. 

“Sometimes, losing a game like (Friday’s) refocuses you,” Steamboat coach Luke DeWolfe said. “Especially when we didn’t play well.” 

But Eagle Valley started to settle down in the second quarter and used its defense to start turning Steamboat over. 

“That was the big thing was we started to turn them over,” McConaghy said. 

The Devils forced six second-quarter turnovers by the Sailors and tied it at 19 at the break.  

From there, the two teams would see four ties and five lead changes in a turbulent second half. 

The Sailors were without starting forwards Jake Miller and Eric Trousil for extended periods in the second half because of foul trouble. 

Six-foot-eight freshman Garrett Bye filled in admirably for Steamboat while junior guard Justin Ditter did what he could to keep the Sailors in it. 

Still, Eagle Valley got a pair of 3-pointers to close the third quarter and take a 37-31 lead into the final frame. 

The two teams kept trading baskets before a Ditter runner tied it at 44 with 1 minute, 1 second remaining. 

“I usually shoot midrange shots, but coach told me to try and get to the rim,” said Ditter, who had a game-high 18 points. “So that’s what I did.” 

Eagle Valley, however, had one last chance. With 10 seconds left Cooper Senn got the ball just outside the arc on the left side. He dribbled twice before the referee called Steamboat for a hand check 17 feet from the basket. 

Senn went on to make both free throws, and a Kit Croop half-court heave fell short. 

“Honestly, I wouldn’t want to be an official,” a diplomatic DeWolfe said at the end. “It’s a tough situation to swallow, but he saw a foul and called it.”

Steamboat, however, was its own worst enemy. The Sailors turned the ball over 14 times and missed 11 free throws. 

In addition to Ditter, Croop added 10 points. Jeremy Sabo led the Devils with 15 points, and Senn had eight. 

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