Steamboat boys top Montrose | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat boys top Montrose

Luke Graham

Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team has never had a problem winning with defense. In fact, it's what Steamboat coach Kelly Meek prefers. — The Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team has never had a problem winning with defense. In fact, it's what Steamboat coach Kelly Meek prefers.

— The Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team has never had a problem winning with defense. In fact, it’s what Steamboat coach Kelly Meek prefers.

During Thursday’s opening round of the Steamboat Shoot Out against Montrose, Steamboat needed every defensive stop it could muster in the team’s 47-45 win.

With the win, Steamboat plays Green River, Wyo., at 8 p.m. today in the main gymnasium at Steamboat Springs High School. Green River beat Aspen, 70-59, in opening-round play Thursday.

“I’m proud of the kids because this wasn’t an easy game,” Meek said. “There wasn’t much flow to it. Montrose doesn’t let you get easy things.”

The Sailors defense had to be all the more solid on a night that saw them shoot 43 percent from the field and 28 percent from the free throw line. But when the offense wasn’t clicking, and the defense had to make a stop – it did.

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The last such stop came with 1 minute, 18 seconds left in the game and Steamboat clinging to a 47-43 lead.

After a Steamboat miss, Montrose’s Jeremy Jones grabbed the rebound and pushed the ball up the court. As Jones entered the top of the key, Steamboat senior Colby Kostur stepped in front, planted his feet and took a charge, giving the Sailors the ball back.

With only four team fouls, Montrose was forced to foul three consecutive times to get Steamboat to the line. While Steamboat missed the front end of three 1-and-1s, it was too late for Montrose to mount a comeback.

“We talked about being in the right position and it ended up being me,” said Kostur, who was pivotal in holding Montrose to 19-of-50 shooting from the field. “I was just in the right place at the right time.”

After leading most of the first half, Steamboat struggled on both ends of the court in the third quarter. A 20-17 first-half lead quickly turned into a 34-33 deficit heading into the final frame.

Senior playmakers Michael Vandahl and Kostur brought the Sailors back, scoring a combined 12 points in the fourth quarter. Vandahl, who struggled with a bad ankle for most of the game, poured in eight points in a two-minute stretch, including a layup at 4:51 in the quarter to give the Sailors the lead for good, at 43-41.

“We didn’t play that good,” Vandahl said. “Always in the first home game you have those jitters, so it’s good to get that win.”

Vandahl and Aaron Calkins led the Sailors with 16 points each. Kostur added 12.

Steamboat beat Green River last year at the Flaming Gorge Tournament. But it was Green River that came away with perhaps the most impressive win of the day, downing Aspen – a top contender in Class 3A.

“Tempo is going to be really crucial, because once they score, they slap that zone press on you and those traps,” Meek said. “They want an uptempo game, so we have to be smart, still look to score, but know when to pull back and run the offense.”

– To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com