Sailors to meet Mustangs | SteamboatToday.com

Sailors to meet Mustangs

Steamboat begins postseason play tonight against Fort Morgan

Luke Graham

Steamboat Springs High School basketball coach Kelly Meek talks with his team during the Sailors' practice in Steamboat on Thursday afternoon. The Sailors face the Fort Morgan Mustangs at 7 p.m. today in the gym at Steamboat Springs High School for the second round of Class 4A playoffs.

— Fort Morgan boys basketball coach Jeff Montel is having fun, and lots of it.

After his first year produced a 0-23 record, Montel came back this year with a team of athletes and turned in one of the most memorable basketball seasons in Mustangs history.

Although Fort Morgan has a pedestrian 10-14 record, Tuesday’s 50-46 first-round upset of Centaurus marked the first game for Fort Morgan in the state playoffs since 1961.

Now, Montel brings his group of athletes to Steamboat Springs for a 7 p.m. game and a chance to advance to the Sweet 16.

Clear underdogs against the 21-2 Sailors, Montel said he considers today’s game more of an honor than an opportunity.

“Hey, we’re playing one of the classiest teams in the state,” Montel said. “We knew it was just a matter of time before (Fort Morgan players) played to their abilities. We kept telling the kids things would break open and we’d be OK:Once we got into the state tournament, we figure we’d go out and have fun. If we win, it’s more icing on the cake.”

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Fort Morgan certainly raised some Steamboat eyebrows after Tuesday’s win. The Mustangs trailed for the entire game before a layup with less than a minute to play gave Fort Morgan its first lead of the game at 45-43.

“Basically our kids are athletes and not the most solid basketball players,” said Montel, whose team trailed 35-29 heading into the fourth quarter before outscoring Centaurus 21-11 in the fourth quarter. “But because they’re athletes, they have a lot of competitive instincts in them. They won’t die. They keep coming at you.”

That’s something that’s not lost on Steamboat coach Kelly Meek, who watched Tuesday’s game.

“They played and they played and they were gritty,” Meek said. “You wouldn’t believe how hard they battled. They got Centaurus in foul trouble. We talked about it heavily. These kids are going to come extremely fired up and they should be, with that effort they came down with the other night.”

Montel said his team likes to play high intensity man-to-man defense with a quick, trapping full-court zone press.

On offense, the team likes to get to the rim and use 6-foot-5 post player Andrew Rebol.

Meek said the key to tonight’s game will be to stop Fort Morgan’s penetration, rebound and smartly defend each possession.

“They’re a team that has nothing to lose. But it’s the same with us I think,” Meek said. “Our main thing is we don’t want them playing in fear. We want them to execute and trust in our system and their teammates. Playoff basketball is a whole new year and a whole new time. We have to have trust in our system and trust in themselves and their teammates. They have to go out and execute every possession.”

– To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com