Steamboat boys still looking for mojo after low-scoring win | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat boys still looking for mojo after low-scoring win

Steamboat's Tyler Doyne pushes the ball into the lane Saturday against Palisade. The Sailors won the game, 39-35.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — One of the basic axioms of sports was the first thing Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball coach Michael Vandahl could turn to after his team's 39-35 win at home Saturday against Palisade.

It was a game the Sailors needed after losing five of their last six in a post-holiday break slide.

"A win is a win," Vandahl said. "That's probably the best quote for this game."

It wasn't pretty, but it was necessary.

The game was tied 14-14 at half. Steamboat gained a little ground in the third quarter but needed two free throws late from junior Aden Knaus to truly put the game away.

Junior Mac Riniker scored 17 points to lead all scorers. Knaus hit two 3-point shots and finished with 11.

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"It was important to close it out, but it should have been much more locked down earlier in the game," Knaus said. "We need to come out with energy so we're not trailing throughout the game, then ride that wave all the way through. We had it before Christmas, but we lost it a little over break. Hopefully we can get it back."

The 39-point output was the team's lowest of the season and 16 points less than it's been averaging to this point.

Fortunately for the Sailors, the team's defense didn't have an off night, limiting the Bulldogs throughout the game.

"We were moving the ball and getting good shots early, but they just weren't falling," Vandahl said. "This is why our defense is our No. 1 thing in our program. You can always fall back on your defense. To hold a team to 35 points even when you only had 39 is pretty good."

The win keeps the Sailors in the thick of the Western Slope League race as they strive to defend their title from a year ago. They've got two more looming games against teams in the lower half of the league, Rifle, 1-12 and 0-4, in Steamboat on Tuesday, then away at Summit, 8-6 and 1-3, on Friday.

"We've had a lot of sickness, injuries, suspensions, and we've got to get our mojo back," Vandahl said. "That win today was huge. We'll take it."

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