Steamboat Springs basketball teams fall to Eagle Valley in close games

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— Ayren Hart had no problem admitting his eyes were closed.

The last play was designed for the Eagle Valley senior, but Hart found himself with the ball and precious seconds ticking off the clock.

Hart took three dribbles and lasered a shot from near the elbow of the free-throw line that kissed the glass and fell in as time expired, giving the Eagle Valley boys basketball team a 37-36 win against Steamboat.

“My eyes were closed, I swear,” Hart said. “I mean, I was shocked.”

Not as shocked as a Steamboat team that controlled the game for nearly three quarters only to see a 12-point lead evaporate.

The Sailors were up 33-21 with 37 seconds left in the third quarter. Eagle Valley started to chip away and held Steamboat scoreless for 5:45 to eventually take a 35-33 lead with 4:09 left in the fourth quarter.

Finally, Steamboat’s Brody King made a bucket to knot it up at 35.

Steamboat’s Carter Kounovsky hit one of two free throws with 22 seconds left before Hart hit his buzzer-beater.

“It’s not a byproduct of the last shot — it’s a byproduct of how you played for 32 minutes,” Steamboat coach Luke DeWolfe said. “The looks we got were good looks. Right now, we have a tendency to shoot well in the first half and not in the second.”

Steamboat certainly played better in the first half, but Eagle Valley was able to speed up the game in the second half to make the Sailors uncomfortable.

A prime example was late in the third quarter. After Steamboat took its largest lead of the night at 33-21, it looked like Eagle Valley was on the ropes.

But the Devils scored five points in the last 19 seconds of the quarter and the first nine seconds of the fourth to change the complexion of the game.

I told the guys they had to have a sense of urgency,” Devils coach Jim Bair said. “Playing in a game like that, it’s like being down 30. We were fortunate enough tonight to win, but they understood it was important to be urgent in the third quarter and not just the last couple of minutes.”

Steamboat falls to 6-5 overall and 2-4 in the Western Slope League. Eagle Valley is 9-2 and 5-1.

Steamboat girls falter in late comeback

2012-13 Sailors girls basketball schedule

It was everything you’d expect from a Western Slope League girls basketball game.

Team A jumped out to a big lead, gave it up, fell behind, came back, took the lead and eventually lost.

Team A, as it seems to go this year, was Steamboat.

Eagle Valley withstood a late charge in picking up a 41-40 win Friday and stayed in the thick of things in the Western Slope League.

The Devils, with a limited bench because several girls were away for Monday's presidential inauguration, improved to 8-3 overall and 5-1 in the Western Slope League. The team remains a game behind Delta in the standings. Steamboat is 5-6 overall and 1-5 in the league.

For Steamboat, it was what could have been.

The team was up 17-13 after a quarter, before struggling in the second and falling behind 31-22.

Eagle Valley was keyed by Mariel Gutierrez’s 14 points in the second quarter.

“She brings a calming effect to our team,” Devils coach Sam Bartlett said. “She’s just a hard-working kid.”

But Steamboat battled. The Sailors cut the lead to 35-29 after three quarters and had it at 39-38 with 1:45 left.

Steamboat’s Mikaila Jegtvig and Eagle Valley’s Madeline Lounsberry traded free throws to put the Devils up 41-40 with 24 seconds remaining.

Steamboat’s Maggie Crouch got an offensive rebound and was fouled with a second left but couldn’t connect on a pair of free throws.

“We battled in the fourth and had an opportunity to win at the end and just didn’t do it,” Steamboat coach John Ameen said. “We just haven’t found a way to be able to close games like that.”

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

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