Steamboat Shoot-Out basketball tourney starts Thursday
December 7, 2011
Steamboat Springs — There's no denying that the tournament is tough. Three of the eight teams on the boys side of the bracket received votes in the Denver Post's preseason rankings, while five on the girls side were listed.
Good competition is one of the traits of the annual Steamboat Springs Shoot-Out, and the Sailors, who begin play this evening, said they wouldn't have it any other way.
The boys play Conifer at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the new gym at Steamboat Springs High School, and the girls play Windsor at 8:15 p.m. on the same court.
"Philosophically, I'd much rather play good teams and get better and have a clear picture of what we need to do to compete at that high level," Steamboat boys coach Luke DeWolfe said. "That's what it's about this time of year — getting better — and we always enjoy having good teams up here to have good, solid basketball and a good tournament."
For DeWolfe's team, the weekend could be an important test to see exactly where his team is at early in the season. The Sailors are 2-1, with the lone loss being an ugly defeat at the hands of Niwot on Monday. The team came away from that game with plenty to focus on, DeWolfe said.
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"A good, strong, athletic team showed us some of our weaknesses," DeWolfe said about the 65-29 loss. "We've gone back and looked at those things and done a good job addressing them in practice."
Tops on the list for the Sailors: cut down on turnovers. Steamboat's opening round opponent, Conifer, is 0-1 and coming off a rough 4-18 season. Whether it's in that first game, in a second-round matchup against D'Evelyn or Castle View or in a Saturday showdown versus Moffat County, Windsor, Green River or Montrose, DeWolfe said he expects those same weaknesses to be pressured again.
"We need to play 32 minutes and get out there and do what we need to do against the very good teams in this tournament," DeWolfe said.
Steamboat's girls enter the tournament 2-0, and like the boys, they're eager for some tough competition and to prove where they rank among it.
The squad picked up a pair of wins last weekend, and it's hoping to continue that good play this weekend at home.
"We have an idea how the other teams in the tournament will be, but sometimes it's a crapshoot. If we play really well, we'll have a shot to compete and win against anyone in the field," coach John Ameen said.
The Sailors have found success in the first round in recent Shoot-Outs. It's the second-round game, which sends the winner to Saturday night's championship, that has proved to be a stumbling block. With the program as healthy as it's been in his tenure, Ameen said he's eager to see his girls take that next step.
"We'd like to be able to get to that championship," he said. "Last weekend we were pretty good at playing our game, playing fast and up-tempo, so we need to continue that and keep progressing.
"The girls have been working tremendously hard this month to play a very different style of game. (The championship game) would be a great reward for them."
Hayden boys basketball (0-0) vs. Crested Butte (1-2)
■ 7 p.m. Thursday at Meeker tournament
The Tigers finally get the chance to open their season. They'll play Crested Butte at 7 p.m. Thursday in the first round of a weekend tournament in Meeker.
Hayden made clear it was one of the top teams in the region by winning the tournament a year ago. Having graduated several top players, the Tigers may surprise some if they send the same message again.
Hayden girls (3-0) at Vail Christian (1-1)
■ 6 p.m. Thursday
The Hayden girls basketball team couldn't have started the season better, streaking to three wins and the tournament championship in Meeker. Now the Tigers will look to keep that momentum rolling at 6 p.m. Thursday at Vail Christian.
Hayden swept the matchup a year ago, winning the two games by an average of 28 points, but Vail Christian proved during a dominant fall volleyball season that it has the athletes to compete.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com