Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, yet somehow it did.
Somehow, the Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team looked legit Friday against defending Western Slope League champion Glenwood Springs.
It shouldn’t have been surprising because this is what has come to be expected from Steamboat basketball.
For the better part of the past four seasons, Steamboat has started slow before turning it around in the second half of the season.
It looks like this season is no different.
Friday’s game with Glenwood — the two teams have combined to win the past five league championships — held the attention of the rest of the Western Slope.
Glenwood, after winning the past couple of league championships, was the favorite coming in.
After Friday’s game — the Sailors jumped out to a 21-2 lead before winning, 61-43 — Steamboat now has to be the favorite to win what is shaping up to be the most interesting Western Slope League race in some time.
What Steamboat did during the holiday break was no doubt remarkable. The last time people saw the Sailors in action in December, it was tough to think the team would finish above .500. Simply put, they weren’t very good. They had one player in Jake Miller consistently playing at a high level.
On Friday, all five starters scored at least eight points. The defense again looked Steamboat-esque, consistently frustrating Glenwood.
The biggest turnaround, however, came in junior guard Justin Ditter and sophomore guard Carter Kounovsky.
The two looked wide-eyed before the holidays. On Friday, they looked confident and combined to score 21 points and handled the pressure Glenwood put on relatively well.
A big factor in Steamboat’s success in the league is how Ditter and Kounovsky play the rest of the year.
Steamboat is likely to continue to see more pressure in the half and full courts. This means the two young guards will be asked to handle that pressure. If the team can limit turnovers — say keeping it under 15 per game — it will be tough to beat.
With the league legitimately seeing as many as six teams being able to win it, there is reason to be excited for basketball again.
It started Friday with the big bull’s-eye Steamboat put on its chest.
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com