Key buckets from Kerbs help lift Sailor boys | SteamboatToday.com

Key buckets from Kerbs help lift Sailor boys

Steamboat senior Austin Kerbs lines up on defense Wednesday against Rifle. Kerbs had big rebounds and baskets late in the game to help give the Sailors a win at home against Rifle.

— Steamboat Springs High School senior Austin Kerbs rarely saw the floor a year ago for the Sailors' varsity boys basketball squad,

and were it not for a handful of missing players thanks to injuries and suspensions, he may not be seeing much time this year, either.

He's made the most of his opportunity, however, and Wednesday night, one of the team's most unheralded regular players made some of its biggest plays, helping Steamboat hold off Rifle, 43-39.

Kerbs scored nine points, five in the fourth quarter and hauled down two huge offensive rebounds. He took the second back up to score, giving Steamboat a key cushion late in the game.

"He worked his tail off all night," Steamboat coach Luke DeWolfe said about Kerbs. "He just works so hard and that's something we've challenged our kids with. We all need to play that hard."

For more than three quarters, Rifle took every hit the Sailors had. The score was tied at 18 at halftime and 30 heading into the fourth quarter. Every time Steamboat extended a lead, the Bears managed to catch up.

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In the second quarter, it was a big 3-pointer from Avery Lujan. In the fourth, a basket and a made free throw from Jacob Boone reeled Steamboat back in again and another trey, this one late in the game, from Lujan, forced the Sailors to make their free throws.

Luis Carreon led Rifle with 13 points while Boone had nine.

"It was a dogfight. I was happy with the way our kids competed," Rifle coach Roger Walters said. "We hung in there and didn't let Steamboat get too far away from us. Our kids showed a lot of guts.

"Steamboat's just really good. It's really hard to keep them off the glass. They have a chance to be really special this year."

Steamboat had other highlights. A 3-pointer from Robi Powers helped Steamboat out early and a monster ally-oop dunk finished by Garrett Bye gave the squad a boost early in the fourth quarter.

Nothing seemed quite as important as Kerbs’ two offensive rebounds, however.

Both came on the same possession, midway through the fourth quarter with the game close, Steamboat up 34-33.

He grabbed the first one and passed it back out. The second one came at him, too, kind of at least. He leapt high and caught it with one hand, hauled it in and took a quick dribble to the basket for a put-back and a 36-33 lead.

Powers led all scorers with 16 and Bye had 10.

"We dodged a bullet a little bit," DeWolfe said. "We just have to play better. We had an off night. We were really flat and mentally not sharp. We were able to hang around and get some shots when we needed them."

Steamboat, 4-3, is back in action Saturday at Eagle Valley. Rifle, 3-2, is in Denver on Friday against Glenwood Springs, then at home Saturday against Summit.