Sailors hope to go full Desperado | SteamboatToday.com

Sailors hope to go full Desperado

Steamboat Spring High School boys basketball coach Michael Vandahl offers a pointer on defense Tuesday ahead of the team's home playoff game at 5 p.m. Wednesday against Windsor.

— In a game that's so often R.E.M.'s "It's the end of the world," the Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team is trying to be a little more The Eagles' "Desperado."

"It's the end of the world" clocks in at 206 beats per minute, while "Desperado" is about a third as fast, 60 BPM, and it's that kind of controlled tempo game the Sailors hope to ride when it plays host to Windsor at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.

"I don't want to say that we want a low-scoring game," Steamboat coach Michael Vandahl said, "but the key for us is going to be controlling the tempo."

That style of game has regularly been Steamboat's style, the kind Vandahl played when he led the Sailors as a player into the 2008 state playoffs. His team drove — slowly, to be sure — to the state Sweet 16 that year.

Embracing that pace, but also finding a way to score within it, has been a challenge for the squad this season, but the development of younger players and some role shifting among the veterans has allowed for improvement late in the season.

The team went 2-9 in January, averaging 43 points per game. It then went 6-0 in February, scoring 51 points per game.

Recommended Stories For You

"That came with individual guys being more confident in their own games," Vandahl said. "We figured out what our groove was."

Their groove? "Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses? Come down from your fences, open the gate"

Leading the way has been senior Ethan Riniker, averaging 15.6 points per game and 17.8 through the past six games. He's also led the team in rebounding, pulling in double digits there in four of the past six games.

What makes those stats stand out even more, is that they came with a shift midway through the season to being the team's point guard. At 6-foot-2 — the third-tallest player on the team — that's not the most natural fit, but it's one that's worked.

"He's a player who has the poise and moxie a point guard needs," Vandahl said.

Still, just by scoring average the Sailors will fall short against Windsor, 11-12 on the season and third in the Tri-Valley league. The Wizards have averaged 59 points per game on the season and scored as many as 93 in a game.

Steamboat's approach isn't simply about not scoring, however. It's about trying to win.

"Even back when I played, it was really just about playing good basketball," Vandahl said. "We could push it when we wanted to, but we were also disciplined enough to wait for a shot, to control the ball and take 30 seconds or a minute to get the shot we wanted, then play good defense.

"I like to think this team is starting to resemble that."

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

If you go: Local playoffs

Steamboat boys basketball

What: No. 31 Steamboat, 12-11, vs. No. 34 Windsor, 11-12

When: 5 p.m.

Where: Steamboat Springs High School

Steamboat hockey

What: No. 11 Steamboat, 13-4-2, vs. No. 22 Rampart, 6-13

When: 6:15 p.m.

Where: Howelsen Ice Arena, Steamboat Springs

Soroco-Hayden girls basketball

What: No. 2 Soroco, 17-2, vs. No. 7 Hayden, 7-12

When: 6:15 p.m.

Where: Soroco High School, Oak Creek