Steamboat Springs Don’t tell Steamboat Springs boys basketball’s only two seniors that Saturday was the final home game of their high school careers.
No, Carter Kounovsky and Zach Dunklin won’t have any of it.
That’s because following Saturday afternoon’s 48-29 win against Eagle Valley to close out the regular season, the district tournament is up next.
And what’s the prize if the Sailors get hot and roll through the tournament undefeated and keep their win streak alive? Likely another date at Kelly Meek Gynmasium — this time as part of the state playoffs.
With their blown-up mugs bouncing around in the student section, Kounovsky, Dunklin and the rest of the Sailors overcame a slow start Saturday to roll to another win by 19 points against the Devils.
“It was emotional, definitely,” Dunklin said about the prospect of playing for the final time at home. “But we just can’t get the thought out of the back of our heads of hosting a playoff game.”
And with each win Steamboat picks up, those thoughts are becoming more realistic, especially when Sailors coach Luke DeWolfe admits his team didn’t play its best outing while still routing a league foe.
“Overall, I just thought it was one of those nights where we didn’t play to our potential,” DeWolfe said. “Offensively, we struggled to hit open shots. We had great looks and it wasn’t going down. That’s going to happen from time to time.”
Steamboat turned a 13-13 tie at the end of the first quarter into a double-digit lead by halftime at 27-17. The Sailors kept pressing it on the 5-15 Devils to pick up their 15th win on the season.
Junior Garrett Bye was the only Steamboat player to score in double figures on the uncharacteristically rough shooting night, picking up 11 points and 12 rebounds for a double-double. Kounovsky added eight points, junior Matthew Lanning had nine and Dunklin pitched in five.
Steamboat got hot at the right time, winning its last six contests — all against Western Slope League opponents — by an average of 16 points per game.
Next up is the district tournament, where Steamboat likely will end up in the four- or five-seed range when tip off starts in Grand Junction on Thursday.
“I think we’re ready,” DeWolfe said. “With the seniors we have, when I look in Zach’s and Carter’s eyes, I think they’re ready. That’s as far as I need to look.”
Dunklin said it will take more consistency to bring home the district tournament trophy and that home state playoff game. Kounovsky would like to do away with Steamboat’s lackluster starts to their games.
Either way for the duo that calls each other “brother" and their 13 teammates, Thursday starts a new season, because the past six games are now a thing of the past.
“It’s great winning and all, but we are looking toward the next game,” Kounovsky said. “We want to win that district tournament.”
To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll