Sailors clamp down for win | SteamboatToday.com

Sailors clamp down for win

Steamboat boys team falls back on defense to defeat Palisade

Luke Graham

— Oh, the ways the Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team can win.

A night after putting on a shooting clinic in Friday’s 52-point win against Delta, Steamboat was forced to turn to the other side of the ball in Saturday’s 54-45 win against Palisade.

The Sailors defense limited the Bulldogs to 36 percent (19-of-53) shooting from the field, caused 14 turnovers and allowed Palisade to shoot only four free throws – and none in the final three quarters.

The suffocating defense was all the more important on a night when Steamboat shot 2-of-18 from the 3-point line – including 0-of-11 from normally sharp shooters Aaron Calkins and Michael Vandahl.

“We always fall back on our defense,” said Steamboat coach Kelly Meek, noting the varsity not only continued its undefeated league record but the junior varsity beat Palisade on Saturday, improving to 11-0. “As rough an offensive night as this was, we had the potential if we weren’t defending as hard and as smart as we were, they could blow us out.”

But where Steamboat’s offense sputtered, its defense more than made up for it.

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Palisade (11-7 overall, 5-6 in league play) jumped out to a 13-9 first-quarter lead. The lead could have been bigger, considering Steamboat started the game 1-of-10 from the field and 0-of-8 from behind the 3-point line. Still, Steamboat’s defense created seven first quarter turnovers to keep Palisade from running away with the game.

“That’s something against a team like that, when you have the opportunity you have to grab them by the throat,” Palisade coach Keenon Clement said. “We got all the excuses in the world why we didn’t do it, but it just didn’t happen.”

Palisade extended its lead to 18-11 before Meek a called timeout with 7 minutes, 8 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

From that point on, Steamboat found its niche.

Vandahl’s two free throws with 53 seconds left in the quarter consummated a 16-4 Steamboat run to send the Sailors into halftime with a 27-22 lead.

Steamboat is “just so good defensively,” Clement said. “We’ve really been an up-tempo team, and when you go against a team like that, you just basically have to accept that their will is going to be dictated.”

Steamboat pushed its lead to 14, at 40-26, at the end of three quarters, but Palisade wasn’t done.

Palisade’s Hank Stewart and Jacob Edmiston scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 40-31. After the teams traded baskets, Stewart hit another 3 and Benedict Seebode made a layup to cut the margin to 47-41 with 1:39 to go in the game.

But Steamboat hit 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch – and 14-of-21 in the game – to seal the win.

“With (Friday) and everything, it was a laid-back and low tempo game,” said Steamboat’s Colby Kostur, who along with Alex Wood dominated the boards, combining for 19 rebounds. “We needed to come out with more (Saturday). We just hung in there and kept on battling, hoping it would come back around.”

Vandahl led Steamboat with 17 points, five rebounds and five assists. Kostur chipped in 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Connor Moore added nine points. Wood also contributed six points, eight rebounds and five assists.

Seebode led Palisade with a game-high 19 points. Stewart, the Bulldogs leading scorer, was limited to six points.

Steamboat next plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday at home against Moffat County.

– To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com