Sailors, Bears boys battle for top spot in league | SteamboatToday.com

Sailors, Bears boys battle for top spot in league

Luke Graham

Steamboat Springs — Two wins for the Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team this weekend would go a long way toward improving potential playoff seeding, winning another Western Slope League title and making Steamboat's case as one of the best teams in the state. — Two wins for the Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team this weekend would go a long way toward improving potential playoff seeding, winning another Western Slope League title and making Steamboat's case as one of the best teams in the state.

— Two wins for the Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team this weekend would go a long way toward improving potential playoff seeding, winning another Western Slope League title and making Steamboat’s case as one of the best teams in the state.

But for Steamboat coach Kelly Meek, all those things can wait.

The veteran coach’s mind is set firmly on the Sailors’ matchup against Rifle, at 7:30 tonight on Steamboat’s home court. Meek is not even looking ahead to Saturday at 5:30 p.m., when the Sailors travel to Glenwood Springs for another key game.

The Rifle Bears (9-6 overall, 6-1 in league play) are in second place in the Western Slope League. Their lone league loss came earlier this month against Steamboat, who topped the Bears, 72-61.

Because the Sailors (13-2, 7-0) and the Bears are more familiar with each other than any other two schools in the league, Meek said if his team is thinking about anything other than this game, it will be a long night.

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“Both of us know each other very well,” Meek said. “There’s no real secrets between the two programs. We do an excellent job of knowing what they want to run and they do an excellent job of knowing what we want to run.”

Meek said Rifle “poses a terrible problem in terms of speed.” Led by guards Scott and Tyler Rust, the Bears play an uptempo, physical game. Rifle runs multiple sets, likes to penetrate and plays defense about as well as any team in the league, Meek said.

With two teams so familiar, Meek said the game – and potential league championship – should hinge on who does the little things better.

“What it breaks down to is you better try to win every possession,” Meek said. “The possession at hand might win the game. How you execute as a five-man group on defense is paramount on every possession.”

Meek called Glenwood “a completely different animal.” The Demons (9-4, 5-2) are much bigger than Steamboat or Rifle, boasting two post players 6-foot-5 or taller.

“They pose a different problem for us,” said Meek, whose team beat Glenwood, 55-51, earlier in the season. “We have to make them a jump-shooting team. They can drive the ball so well, but at the same time, we can’t give up easy looks.”

– To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com