2014 Yampa Valley Athlete of the Year
1. Steamboat boys basketball 40, Sierra 38
The Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team longed to host a state tournament game, and when the Sailors drew No. 10 Sierra at home, they got what they wanted.
Steamboat built a lead, but Sierra slowly chipped away at it. By the time the Stallions finally tied things up with a little more than four minutes to go, they began playing for the last shot. Instead of going back and forth with Steamboat, Sierra milked Colorado’s no-shot-clock rule simply holding onto the ball.
It didn’t work. The Stallions never got off a shot and couldn’t end the game in overtime. In double-overtime, Steamboat’s Garrett Bye converted a put-back layup under the hoop with four seconds left to win it.
2. Moffat County boys basketball 61, Aspen 59
After taking a beating from Aspen in their first matchup of the season, Moffat County was looking to tie the Skiers at the top of the league standings in the rematch. The Bulldogs took a big lead in the second half, only to watch it disappear in the fourth quarter, when Aspen tied the game at 55 with less than three minutes remaining, but the Bulldogs recovered from there. They got 28 points from Kort Hathhorn and a key steal with 10 seconds remaining. Aspen was left to try a desperation half-court shot at the buzzer. It missed, and Moffat County got the win.
3. Steamboat girls soccer 2, Fruita Monument 1
Some of the drama of the Steamboat Springs High School girls soccer team’s May 2 double-overtime victory against Fruita Monument was dissipated, somehow, days after the fact.
The Sailors thought the 2-1 win would get them into the playoffs, but the team still wasn’t selected. But even without the potential playoff implications, the game was a thriller.
Natalie Bohlmann put Steamboat up early, but Fruita answered in the second half. Both teams had oh-so-close opportunities late in the game and in overtime, but sophomore Jordi Floyd finally took advantage, spinning quick to rip a game-winning shot across the field and into the goal.
Every moment was exciting, no matter what happened several days later.
4. Moffat County girls basketball 58, Olathe 53
The Bulldogs and Pirates were separated by one basket after a quarter, tied at halftime, tied at the end of the third and still knotted up with less than three minutes to play. Moffat County’s Jazmine Swindler was aggressive getting to the basket all night, which helped her score 16 points. That skill helped again late in the fourth quarter, sparking a game-winning run. Fellow seniors Cheianne Pinnt and Allie Ehlers chipped in points down the stretch to help MCHS finally separate from Olathe for a key league win.
5. Hayden boys basketball 39, Soroco 27
Hayden boys basketball had long bullied Soroco on the hardwood, until this season.
The Rams trounced the Tigers in a pair of early season match-ups, both 30-point victories.
On Feb. 21, in the season’s final game between the two, it looked like things might not be any different. Hayden suited up just five players, and with an empty bench, the game seemed grim.
Down by five heading into the final quarter, Hayden rallied despite a gassed group of players. The Tigers used a lackluster scoring quarter by the Rams to stun their cross-county rival, 39-37, ruining Soroco’s senior night.
6. Soroco football 14, Vail Christian 12
The Soroco football team’s 26-6 win against Hayden, which snapped a 10-year streak, may have meant more to the fans and players, but it was Soroco’s 14-12 victory at Vail Christian that represented the team’s highlight for the season.
Using a pass-happy spread offense in previous years, the Rams took advantage of their bulk last fall and muscled their way through the Saints. Vail scored first, but Matt Regan answered, running in for two touchdowns to take the lead. Senior running back Ian Palyo came up big all day, as well, moving the chains to keep Vail off the field. The defense came through with sacks in the fourth quarter, helping the Rams become a perfect 5-0 on the season.
The win put Soroco in the district driver’s seat and showed the team and coach at their best.
7. Steamboat boys lacrosse 14, Cheyenne Mountain 13
Steamboat Springs High School boys lacrosse made a living out of coming from behind against good teams in 2014.
On April 5, the Sailors trailed Cheyenne Mountain at home, 13-10, with just two minutes, 31 seconds left to play. The Sailors mounted a furious comeback, getting goals from Peter White, Ben Wharton and White again to send the game into overtime.
A few minutes into the overtime period, Wharton sunk Cheyenne Mountain with a sudden-death goal, vaulting the Sailors to a perfect 9-0.
8. Moffat County football 28, Summit 21
Matt Hamilton caught two touchdown passes and had an interception as the Bulldogs rallied to pick up their first win of the season. Trailing 14-0 after mistakes early in the game, the Bulldogs scored 28 straight points, including a strip and touchdown from Jesse DeMoor and a 75-yard touchdown run by Brayden Peterson.
Playing through a blowing snowstorm most of the night, the Moffat County defense did the job in the fourth quarter, keeping Summit out of the end zone while preserving a one-score lead.
9. Moffat County girls soccer 5, Colorado Rocky Mountain School 4
The winless CRMS Oysters proved to be a more than capable opponent for Moffat County in a wild second half that featured seven total goals.
The teams were tied, 1-1, at halftime, but CRMS took a 2-1 lead before MCHS scored three in a row to open a 4-2 advantage. But the Oysters came back and tied the game with about four minutes left.
Jazmine Swindler scored her second goal of the game several minutes later to get Moffat County the much-needed win.
10. Falcon girls basketball 46, Steamboat 44
The Steamboat Springs High School girls basketball team so desperately wanted to erase the memory from an up-and-down season in the state playoffs, and the team came so very close to advancing.
Up by four with 90 seconds left at No. 7-seed Falcon, the Sailors clung to life in the 4A state playoffs. But as Falcon mounted a comeback, tying things up at 42 inside of a minute, what happened next probably still has Steamboat scratching its head, wondering, “What if?”
Falcon’s Kayla Travis drove the lane with seconds left, knocking down a game-winner as time expired. The move left Steamboat coach Mack Spitellie fuming, looking for a traveling call that never came. The loss ended Steamboat’s season.
11. Soroco girls basketball 61, Sangre de Cristo 58
It was a special season for the Rams. They set a program record for wins with their 16-8 mark, but things looked to be at an end after a 0-2 showing at the district tournament.
The Rams managed one more big win, upsetting Sangre de Cristo in the first round of the regional tournament, 61-58.
It was a whole-team effort. Jacey Schlegel led the team with 14 points, and DaKota Bruner scored 13. Jessica Rossi added 10 while Hayley Johnson, Madison George and Leah Walorski all stood out for their defense.
The game sent the Rams into the regional championship, one game away from the state tournament, and onto a new level for the current Soroco program.
12. Hayden volleyball 3, West Grand 1
The Hayden volleyball team’s home victory against West Grand was huge for several reasons.
First, it was simply exciting. The team decisively lost the first set but bounced back big and won the next three, checking West Grand rallies whenever necessary. The victory would go down as one of the team’s best on a winning 10-8 season.
More than that, however, the match set a tone for this year’s team. After the Tigers struggled to win any matches in 2012, they showed that 2013 would be different. They did it with power, from some of the team’s top hitters, and with poise, up and down the roster.