Long returns to steer Sailor girls basketball team in league play
Steamboat Springs — There aren’t many mysteries in regard to what will make the Steamboat Springs High School girls basketball team successful as it heads into Western Slope League play.
Coach John Ameen knows the league’s strength is its guard play and defensive pressure. Fortunately, Ameen and the Sailors have their own force to be reckoned with this year.
Three-year Sailors starting point guard Brittany Long has assumed a leadership role for the team.
“She’s very important,” Ameen said before the team’s Tuesday’s practice. “We have people that can and do back her up, but it’s important that she is on the floor as much as possible.”
Long, who has started since her sophomore year, said she doesn’t feel a big burden heading into league play. The senior, who also is an accomplished cross-country and track and field athlete, said the success of the Sailors will come down to how they play as a team.
“It really depends on everyone,” Long said. “I kind of feel like I am a leader, but it’s equal between everyone.”
Nevertheless, Ameen said Long has the skills to help the Sailors make a statement in the league. Ameen said Long came in three years ago and struggled at times. But through her hard work in the summers, Ameen said, Long has improved more than almost any other basketball player.
“It’s tremendous,” he said. “Just mainly her ball skills have improved so much. That’s what you need as a point guard, is those ball skills. That’s the most important thing that has happened with her.”
In addition to her skills development, Ameen said, Long is one of the fittest athletes on the team. Long trains year-round for cross-country and track and field. Her fitness level especially is important to Ameen, who said the Sailors are a much better team with Long on the court.
“Our success is partly on her, and it’s partly the rest of the people on the floor,” Ameen said. “She has her role, but it does start with her.”
Long hopes to attend Portland State University in Portland, Ore., where she plans to run cross-country and study alternative medicine.
Until then, Long will be a key cog for a Steamboat team looking to change its ways in league play and to make the state playoffs.
“I’m focusing on being a better point guard,” Long said. “I’m looking to get everyone open and get into our offense more. We all think we’re going to be able to be a top contender in league. We really want to try for state this year.”
– To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229
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