League title is in sight for Steamboat Springs hoopsters | SteamboatToday.com

League title is in sight for Steamboat Springs hoopsters

Luke Graham

Steamboat Springs High School senior Charles Wood goes up for a layup during Saturday's scrimmage with Hayden High School.
Matt Stensland

— For the Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball program, it must feel like a decade since the team last won the Western Slope League that it traditionally has dominated.

In reality, it's been only the past three years that a resurgent Glenwood Springs team has stolen the mantle as the premier team on the Western Slope.

So as the 2010-11 season inches closer, can this Steamboat team — one that returns all five starters — return to the top?

"It's one thing to put that out there and say we want to win a league title," Steamboat coach Luke DeWolfe said. "It's a different thing to actually do it. That's what we're focused on right now is doing those things to get there. We've competed well against really good teams, and we've been right there. We just haven't got it done. Hopefully, this year we can do it."

Doing it this year will mean relying heavily on the five returning starters — Justin Anderson, Eric Trousil, Randall Nelson, Charles Wood and Isiah Forsyth.

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"We've all been playing together since fifth grade," said Nelson, who will be expected to play on the wing and inside this year. "We've got really good chemistry and we have a lot more experience, whereas last year, a lot of players didn't have much varsity experience."

Still, Steamboat won't start a player taller than 6-feet-2 inches, and the bench remains talented but inexperienced.

Last season, Steamboat's lack of height and depth showed. The starters often had to log more minutes than DeWolfe would have liked, and the team never could settle on a defensive identity.

DeWolfe said the focus now is notching up the defense and rebounding.

"Right now, our guys take a lot of pride in their offensive play," he said. "Right now, we're trying to build that pride into our defense. We just need to get better defensively, and I think most of it starts with our guys having more heart and determination and plain working harder."

DeWolfe said there are as many as five players who will fill in off the bench. He said the early part of the season will be used to find out which players will fill the sixth, seventh and eight spots off the bench.

Rounding out the Sailors roster are Jake Miller, Kit Croop, Hondo Anderson, Ben Custer, Ryan Hall and Robby Davis.

It's hard not to like Ste­amboat's chances this year in the Western Slope League.

Steamboat, along with Glen­­­­wood, returns two first-team All-Western Slope League players in Wood and Forsyth.

Glenwood, winners of two straight league titles, returns reigning Player of the Year Kevin Flohr and inside masher Nick Ciani.

Palisade should make it a three-team race.

"We're usually very powerful in basketball and in the league," said Forsyth, who will be asked to score more than he has his previous three years. Winning the league "is a good thing to start out with."

Offensively, Steamboat is moving away from its traditional half-court sets to more of a dribble drive offense.

Forsyth, the starting point guard for the past two years, might be the key. He could be the fastest player in the league and appears poised to finally take control of the team.

"I have to score more," Forsyth said. "I've always been a passer. This year, I'm looking to score more. I'll still be my regular self, but I know I have more of a role this year than bringing it up and passing it around."

Steamboat should get tested relatively early. The team plays non-league games in December against Niwot and Aspen in addition to hosting the Steamboat Shootout and heading to the Green River, Wyo., tournament.

Between then and Jan. 7, when the team opens its league schedule at Glenwood, DeWolfe said he hopes to have a better idea of where his team stands.

"I think it's the same as it is every year for us," he said. "In general, we definitely want to compete and win that league title. That stuff is easy to say. What we're focused on now is how do we get to that point."

Steamboat Springs schedule

Wednesday vs. Niwot, 6 p.m.

Friday, Saturday at Brenda Patch Tournament in Roaring Fork, TBA

Dec. 9 to 11 host Steamboat Shootout, TBA

Dec. 13 vs. Aspen, 6:30 p.m.

Dec. 16 to 18 at Green River, Wyo. Tournament, TBA

Jan. 7 at Glenwood Springs, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 14 at Battle Mountain, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 15 vs. Eagle Valley, 3:30 p.m.

Jan. 21 at Palisade, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 22 at Delta, 3:30 p.m.

Jan. 28 vs. Moffat County, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 29 vs. Glenwood Springs, 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 4 vs. Battle Mountain, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 5 at Eagle Valley, 3:30 p.m.

Feb. 11 vs. Palisade, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 12 vs. Delta, 3:30 p.m.

Feb. 18 at Moffat County, 3:30 p.m.

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