Steamboat boys basketball defense shuts down Eagle Valley, 43-25 |

Steamboat boys basketball defense shuts down Eagle Valley, 43-25

Steamboat earns win vs. Eagle Valley

Chris Freud/Vail Daily

— Someone really ought to add the Steamboat Springs boys basketball defense to the list of life's inevitables alongside death and taxes.

The Sailors smothered Eagle Valley on Tuesday night, 43-25, in Gypsum. The Devils didn't play poorly. Sure, they'll look at the tape and want to see some of their shots fall that didn't. But the reason Steamboat is a league and state-playoff contender every season is defense.

"Steamboat's amazing on defense and their guards just shredded us to death," Devils coach Brent McConaghy said. "That was what it came down to, defense. They denied every pass. They pressured the ball. We just crumbled under it."

And the Steamboat defense, as was the case Tuesday, seems to be playing with a wind at its back because its offense generally pops a few 3s to start the game.

Randall Nelson, Charles Wood and Justin Anderson hit from downtown in the first six minutes of the game, giving the Sailors a 12-4 lead. Eight points doesn't seem like much, but as most of the Western Slope League knows, it's a bunch facing a Steamboat defense.

"We're lucky to have good shooters," Sailors coach Luke DeWolfe said. "It's a big advantage to have those shooters and pull teams out of zones with your ability to shoot."

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"It's fun just to click, especially early in the game," said Nelson, who led all scorers with 15. "It's a lot of fun to get that early lead. We take a lot of pride in our defense."

That showed. Eagle Valley trailed, 24-8, at the half. The Devils tried escaping Steamboat's menacing guard play, going underneath to Zeth Ramsey, Cooper Senn and Jeremy Sabo, but the Sailors, not overly huge, were stout there, too. And with a lead, Steamboat was content to milk the clock and continue its quest for the playoffs.

Isiah Forsyth had 10 points for the Sailors. Ramsey led the Devils with 9.

With the state tournament pared to 32 teams and Glenwood Springs in the driver's seat with regard to tiebreakers for the league title, the Sailors need to win out and hope Colorado High School Activities Association takes at least two teams from the league.

"I sure hope so," DeWolfe said. "It would be a tragedy if that didn't happen. You hope second place would go. It's out of our hands. All we can do is focus on what we control and that's winning these next three games."

That stretch begins with a home game against Delta on Friday.

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