Quality competition comes in for new format Steamboat Shoot-Out tournament | SteamboatToday.com

Quality competition comes in for new format Steamboat Shoot-Out tournament

Ben Ingersoll

— The annual Steamboat Shoot-Out basketball tournament hosted by the hometown Sailors will look different than it ever has before this weekend.

The girls draw has a traditional tournament-format eight squads, but the boys lineup features 10 teams from all across the Western Slope and Front Range, and neither tournament will be playing in a championship-style bracket.

Because enough teams — Steamboat included — have Shoot-Out opponents already on their regular-season schedules, Sailors athletic director and head boys coach Luke DeWolfe said it was in the participating schools’ best interest to move away from a bracket and into a round-robin tournament of sorts.

"I think ultimately the change was made due to the fact we had a lot of teams who play each other during the course of the year," DeWolfe said. "With us, for example, there are Western Slope teams like Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley. We did not want to play each other for a third time and possibly a fourth looking forward to a district tournament."

Instead, both boys and girls schools have their Thursday, Friday and Saturday games already set, and there will be no true Shoot-Out champions.

"I think you come away 3-0 you can say you had a pretty good tournament," DeWolfe said. "This point in the year I think teams are looking for the opportunity to just come up and play good opponents."

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Boys tournament

Reigning Shoot-Out boys champion Golden won’t be in town this go around, but the schools on campus have some deep resumes heading into this winter.

Colorado Academy comes in as the 2013-14 Class 3A runner-up after a 24-win season last winter. Steamboat, Moffat County, Palmer Ridge and Denver Christian also should figure into the mix of teams that could leave Steamboat three wins richer after Saturday.

The Sailors will open up with Roosevelt at Kelly Meek Gymnasium at 6:15 p.m. Thursday. Steamboat saw the Roughriders in summer league play, catching a glimpse of what they’ll bring to the table as the Sailors open their home tourney.

"They’ll be strong and athletic," DeWolfe said. "They’ve typically been a really physical team and one that wants to get up and down and run the court a little bit."

Roosevelt’s second-leading scorer Orlando Valles is on the roster this year, and through a 1-1 start, the Roughriders have four players averaging double-digits in the scoring column.

Steamboat (2-1) has opened with its own balanced scoring attack, getting big contributions in last weekend’s Warrior Challenge from Austin Kerbs, Garrett Bye, Brody King and Robi Powers.

But even in the Sailors’ two wins so far, there has been plenty for DeWolfe to point out as areas of improvement. In victories against Fruita Monument and Grand Junction Central, Steamboat saw late leads evaporate quickly and turn into one-possession contests down the stretch.

"As much as anything we always talk about making sure we play solid for 32 minutes," DeWolfe said. "Taking it day by day. Each day you can’t look ahead in these tournaments."

On Friday, Steamboat will play Northridge out of Greeley at 7:45 p.m., and the Sailors will close out the Shoot-Out against Palmer Ridge, of the Tri-Valley League, at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

Girls tournament

If the Steamboat Shoot-Out boys bracket looks like a challenge, the girls tournament is about as deep a pool of competitors as the Sailors will see between now and an impending district tourney run.

Half of the eight squads reached their respective state tournaments last year, including two that had more than 20-win season and advanced all the way to the Class 4A Great 8.

Elizabeth — last winter’s girls Shoot-Out champion — and Palmer Ridge won 23 and 22 games, respectively, in 2013-14, and come into this weekend as the favorites to walk out undefeated.

Even the Sailors’ seemingly easier draw in Thursday’s round of games isn’t going to be much of a gimme. Steamboat opens with Discovery Canyon in the opening-round night cap (7:45 p.m.) against the Thunder that won just three games last winter.

Discovery Canyon already has three wins this season and returns all but one player from its rough 2013-14 run.

"This tournament is a big deal with better competition," Steamboat coach Mack Spitellie said. "It’s early, but it will definitely help us find what we need to work on. Like I always say, we need to play with some grit so we can stay in games."

Things get much tougher Friday when the Sailors square off with Elizabeth, a team that ripped through Shoot-Out competition last season by an average of 29 points per game.

Steamboat should lean heavily on juniors Annie Osbourn (12.3 points per game) and Jenna Miller (11 points per game).

The hosts will close out the tournament at 9 a.m. Saturday against Frederick.

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll.

Steamboat Shoot-Out schedule

Boys

Thursday

■ Eagle Valley vs. Moffat County, 2:45 p.m. (new gym)

■ Colorado Academy vs. Elizabeth, 4:30 p.m. (auxiliary gym)

Steamboat Springs vs. Roosevelt, 6:15 p.m. (new gym)

■ Denver Christian vs. Battle Mountain, 6:15 p.m. (middle school gym)

■ Palmer Ridge vs. Northridge, 7:45 p.m. (auxiliary gym)

Friday

■ Roosevelt vs. Elizabeth, 1:15 p.m. (new gym)

■ Palmer Ridge vs. Battle Mountain, 2:45 p.m. (new gym)

■ Colorado Academy vs. Eagle Valley, 4:30 p.m. (auxiliary)

■ Moffat County vs. Denver Christian, 6:15 p.m. (new gym)

Steamboat Springs vs. Northridge, 7:45 p.m. (auxiliary)

Saturday

■ Denver Christian vs. Northridge, 9 a.m. (new gym)

■ Battle Mountain vs. Roosevelt, 9 a.m. (middle school gym)

■ Moffat County vs. Colorado Academy, 10:45 a.m. (auxiliary gym)

Steamboat Springs vs. Palmer Ridge, 12:30 p.m. (new gym)

■ Eagle Valley vs. Elizabeth, 12:30 p.m. (middle school gym)

Girls

Thursday

■ Eagle Valley vs. Elizabeth, 2:45 p.m. (auxiliary gym)

■ Battle Mountain vs. Frederick, 4:30 p.m. (new gym)

■ Prairie View vs. Palmer Ridge, 6:15 p.m. (auxiliary gym)

Steamboat Springs vs. Discovery Canyon, 7:45 p.m. (new gym)

Friday

■ Battle Mountain vs. Discovery Canyon, 2:45 p.m. (auxiliary gym)

■ Palmer Ridge vs. Frederick, 4:30 p.m. (new gym)

Steamboat Springs vs. Elizabeth, 6:15 p.m. (auxiliary gym)

■ Eagle Valley vs. Prairie View, 7:45 p.m. (new gym)

Saturday

Steamboat Springs vs. Frederick, 9 a.m. (auxiliary gym)

■ Elizabeth vs. Prairie View, 10:45 a.m. (new gym)

■ Battle Mountain vs. Palmer Ridge, 10:45 a.m. (middle school gym)

■ Discovery Canyon vs. Eagle Valley, 12:30 p.m. (auxiliary gym)