Routt County hoops players ready to hit courts |

Routt County hoops players ready to hit courts

Winter sport practices kick off Friday for area schools

— Mike Luppes explained that it’s not the kind of thing you complain about, even if you want to.

Turns out, he doesn’t want to.

Sure, the success of the Hayden High School football will affect his basketball squad. The Tigers of the gridiron will play in a game tentatively scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday against Wray in the quarterfinal round of the Class 1A football playoffs.

Many of those same athletes will miss the first official day of basketball practice, set for Friday.

No worries.

“We’d love it if they played football a couple more weeks,” Luppes said. “We’d love to have to get a late start.”

It doesn’t seem like the kind of year in which Hayden needs a delayed start.

The boys have plenty to prove this winter, coming off an exceptionally successful season in which they upset the No. 1 team in the state and pushed to the state tournament in Pueblo.

They graduated some of the most talented players off that squad, but Luppes said the expectations remain the same and that the stars who do return will help a group of young players step into the varsity lineup.

Still, with only four games before the long winter break, Luppes said he’ll gladly coach the six or seven basketball athletes who aren’t on the football team and cheer for those who are.

“We’re pretty optimistic this year,” Luppes said. “Last year did a lot for us confidence wise, teaching us we can play with anyone in the state. We think that’s true again going into this season.”

Luppes and his Tigers are among the many coaches and athletes eagerly gearing up for the coming season, practices for which already are under way in some sectors.

Steamboat Springs High Schools’ boys and girls teams will continue today with a non-mandatory preseason camp before kicking off official practices with the rest of the state Friday.

The Steamboat girls, like Hayden’s boys, enter with plenty to prove.

They, too, enjoyed one of their most successful seasons in years, earning a playoff bid after a strong regular season.

“Everyone’s really excited going in,” Steamboat girls coach John Ameen said. “We have a good core of girls, who, since last spring, have come in and really worked hard to improve their game, to get stronger, quicker and faster.

“Right now, we’re starting to implement things we’ll be doing all year, working on drills and fundamentals and getting in basketball shape.”

In Oak Creek, too, focus has turned to basketball.

Soroco girls coach David Bruner, who took just two or three days off after the end of football season, said his team won’t take the court until next week, using Friday’s opening day to conduct a two-hour meeting with parents and players.

Then, though, he expects his Rams to get to work on what they hope is a revolutionary season. A squad of mostly the same girls — a senior and junior-laden troupe that took its lumps while starting as freshmen and sophomores — just wrapped up a volleyball season that showed drastic improvement from years past.

“The girls are ready for this year,” Bruner said. “We’ve seen progress the last couple of years, so they think they’ll see quite a bit more this year. We think we have a chance to be up there in the top of the district.

“We’re ready to go.”

— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail

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