Assistant coach Mike Vandahl and the Sailors practice last week at Steamboat Springs High School. The Sailors will open the season Dec. 2 at Grand Junction Central.

Photo by John F. Russell

Assistant coach Mike Vandahl and the Sailors practice last week at Steamboat Springs High School. The Sailors will open the season Dec. 2 at Grand Junction Central.

Depth, experience anchor Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball

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— From where his Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team stood this time last season, the difference in experience for head coach Luke DeWolfe’s Sailors is “night and day.”

2013-14 Sailors boys basketball schedule

  • Dec. 2: Steamboat 56, Grand Junction Central 50
  • Dec. 6: Brenda Patch Tournament at Roaring Fork: Steamboat 48, Roaring Fork 33
  • Dec. 7: Brenda Patch Tournament at Roaring Fork
  • Dec. 12 to 14: Steamboat Springs Shoot-Out
  • Dec. 20: 3 p.m. vs. Glenwood Springs at Pepsi Center
  • Jan. 10: 7:30 p.m. at Palisade
  • Jan. 11: 2:30 p.m. at Delta
  • Jan. 16: 7 p.m. at Eagle Valley
  • Jan. 18: 2 p.m. vs. Battle Mountain
  • Jan. 21: 7:30 p.m. at Rifle
  • Jan. 25: 2:30 p.m. at Glenwood Springs
  • Jan. 30: 7:30 p.m. at Summit
  • Feb. 1: 3:30 p.m. vs. Rifle
  • Feb. 7: 7:30 p.m. vs. Palisade
  • Feb. 8: 4 p.m. vs. Delta
  • Feb. 11: 7:30 p.m. vs. Summit
  • Feb. 13: 7 p.m. at Battle Mountain
  • Feb. 15: 3:30 p.m. vs. Eagle Valley

The depth is unlike anything he’s ever had, he said, and the maturity level is through the roof.

The Sailors were 11-12 overall last season and finished fifth in the Western Slope League.

Returning to the court are four of DeWolfe’s five starters from that team, including his leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker. Only two seniors graduated out of the program, and early practices are showing Steamboat’s potential for the 2013-14 season.

“Last year was a great building block for us,” DeWolfe said. “It was a great experience for those kids. We achieved a lot, and it was a successful season, I thought.”

That season saw a first-round exit from the 4A state playoffs in a loss against Golden. The very next day, the head coach was at the school, keys in hand, ready to open the gym.

Almost every player on his current roster was in the gym on that Friday in March. That experience and commitment, the coaches and players insist, is what is going to be this year’s catalyst.

“Our IQ is so much higher,” junior center Garrett Bye said. “We’re going to be playing at a much higher level this year.”

Bye lamented the team’s 40-points-per-game average last year. In the Sailors 12 losses, five were by three or fewer points.

“In my experience with basketball, there’s no substitute for game-time experience, especially in close games,” DeWolfe said. “When you have upperclassmen or groups that are really experienced, you usually win those close games.”

That experience will hinge heavily on senior guard and last year’s leading scorer Carter Kounovsky (10.7 points per game in 2012-13). Bringing the ball up the court will be junior Brody King. And arguably the most noticeable person in every gym this winter will be the 6-foot-9 Bye, who said he wants to average a double-double and contend for the state lead in blocked shots.

The newest face on the court is sophomore sharpshooter Robi Powers, a player DeWolfe said could help the Sailors in a big way this year.

“I think he’s just one who really has a ton of athleticism and wants to be a basketball player,” DeWolfe said. “He’s put a lot of time and energy into it.”

On Nov. 15, DeWolfe handed his varsity squad a single sheet of paper laying out Steamboat’s team goals. He wants his experienced unit to not only be able to identify possible roadblocks, but also be able to know how to work through them.

He also wants them to forge personal goals that can help facilitate the team’s vision of advancing in the playoffs. DeWolfe said there is only one way to make those goals a reality.

“It’s more than just talk and something you hope for,” he said. “You have to work at it.”

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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