Steamboat Springs The joke would be at least it wasn’t a last-second, buzzer-beating, off-balance shot to decide the game.
The reality was the 11th-seeded Steamboat Springs boys basketball team lost in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs to No. 6 Golden, 58-44.
The Sailors, who end the season 11-12, played well in the game and had it within striking distance going into the fourth quarter.
But with a young team, which featured as many as seven non-seniors in the regular rotation, that learning how to win became the biggest obstacle.
Golden opened it up in the fourth quarter, turning a 36-30 lead into a runaway win.
Learning to win “has to come from them,” Steamboat coach Luke DeWolfe said. “It can’t come from us. Our teams have had success. These guys understand it. Our team understands it. It’s a matter of finishing.”
That has been the mantra all year.
The team ended the year 5-7 in games decided by six points or fewer. The team was 3-4 in games decided by two points or fewer.
Wednesday wasn’t much different.
The Sailors trailed 10-8 after one, were down 25-23 at the break, and trailed 36-30 going into the fourth.
But a more experienced and stronger Golden team wore Steamboat down.
“I hope next year we learn how to win,” DeWolfe said.
Matt Lanning led the Sailors with 10 points. Garrett Bye and Zach Dunklin each had nine.
“I real proud of the way they worked this season,” DeWolfe said. “Hindsight is 20/20. We were close to a lot of things. You look at beating Palisade down there in an (overtime) game and they win the district. We played some really close games. The hope next year, is to learn how to win and be a better team in the long run.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com