Sailors girls basketball shoots for the playoffs |

Sailors girls basketball shoots for the playoffs

Luke Graham

— After guiding the Steamboat Springs High School girls basketball program for two years, senior point guard Brittany Long has a pretty good feel for the team’s potential.

She’s seen two years of losing roll through the gym doors of Steamboat. She’s seen a young and inexperienced team take its lumps from just about every corner of the state.

But now that Long is entering her third year as a starter, she said that youth and inexperience are giving way to a newfound hope to the season.

“It’s not a problem understanding it, but there is a total difference in understanding it and just doing it,” Long said. “We’re finally doing what (coach John Ameen) has been telling us.”

Long leads a wealth of experience coming back. Joining her in the backcourt is returning starter Gracie Stockdale. Up front, the Sailors return posts Colleen King and Darcy Hornstein.

Add in several more girls who have been in the program for multiple years, and Long said the expectations of the program have turned 180 degrees.

Recommended Stories For You

“The goal of the team is, we really want to make it to the state playoffs,” Long said. “We want to go to the Sweet 16 and the top eight. : We haven’t had a good girls basketball team in like eight years, so we want to start a tradition.”

The success of the Steamboat program could hinge on its defense.

Ameen, who is in his third year at the helm, said no matter how the offense plays, the Sailors will rely on their defense.

“I think we’re going to be a very, very difficult team to play against defensively,” he said. “With the athleticism we have and the different stuff we’re implementing, we’ll be tough. Our offense needs to come around to where it’s smoother and we get quality possessions.”

A lot of those possessions are likely to go through King and Hornstein. The two played in the post together at times last year and are expected to shoulder a good portion of the scoring load, along with Long and Stockdale on the perimeter.

“We have to play every quarter, how we know how to, and can’t play down to our opponent,” Hornstein said. “The scoreboard will take care of itself if we play how we know how to play.”

Although Ameen wouldn’t put a goal of a win total out there, he said in his third year in the program, he expects a lot of improvement.

So, with the Western Slope League expected to be down a little after the departure of some key players last year, Ameen said Steamboat should be able to finish in the top half of the league.

“This is the year where I have very high expectations,” Ameen said. “I definitely want more consistent play. We set our goals at the beginning of the year about where we want to be. I’m not a good predictor of wins and losses, but this is the year I want to make a stride in that win column.”