Basketball bench culture fuels Steamboat Springs boys team
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It’s third quarter, and Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team is already up 43-23 against Eagle Valley.
Sailors senior Tyler Doyne closes in on the basket, and when he makes the shot, the Sailors’ bench roars with cheers. Sophomore Ryan Hansen wears a red Steamboat Sailors sweatshirt, and before he marks the stats on the iPad, he flexes his muscles from the bench. Junior Maxim Fullerton laughs, then raises his arms up to flex.
“I like to bring energy from where I can because obviously, I’m not playing. I keep stats,” Hansen said. “If anybody does something crazy, I’ve got to do something somehow, so I break out the flex. I just like to go crazy with Maxim or Jake [Kreissig] or whoever’s beside me.”
Enthusiasm is what the Sailors need in those slower games. It helped them keep the pace for a 68-49 win over the Devils.
“It’s been a big boost for us. Our bench brings a lot of energy, and it fuels us,” Sailors head coach Michael Vandahl said.
Senior Mac Riniker’s style of play is always an energetic display, whether he’s weaving through several defenders to knock in a layup backwards over his head, or he’s broken away from the crowd downcourt to slam a dunk.
But tonight was special, because even the guys on the bench had their shots — and they made them. That included sophomore Granger Rowan and senior Jimmy Osbourn.
“Jimmy Osborne has been a senior and he’s really come a long way, and he’s just an outstanding kid with great character,” Vandahl said. “He’s never complained about his position. He’s a hard worker, a great kid, and it’s amazing to see the teammates love him. He’s a big part of our program. It’s amazing to see all that hard work pay off.”
The Sailors (11-3) played a relaxed game, although they faced a 5-7 team, that was good to get the team’s chemistry brewing.
“I felt like we were tight against Glenwood,” Vandahl said. “We played not to lose, so I thought they did a really good job of playing together this time.”
Junior Ethan Pyles knocked in a 3-pointer mid-third quarter from the top of the key. It was one of only four of the team’s 3-pointers on the night. Hansen has a special cheer for 3-pointers, which originated with Sailors senior Aden Knaus’s 3-pointer trend. He currently leads the team with 33 total 3-pointers this season.
“Like the 3-point signs, I put them on my eyes, and they’re goggles,” Hansen said. He loops his index finger with his thumb, holding up his final three fingers and placing his hands over his eyes.
“Aden’s hitting 3’s a lot, so goggles,” Hansen said.
Hansen plays on the junior varsity team and keeps stats for varsity. Nights like Tuesday are his favorite because he gets to recognize all of his teammates making their shots.
Riniker finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and five steals. Sailors junior Dawson Lindquist knocked in 15 points. Knaus had 11 points and four rebounds, and Doyne finished with 10 points and seven rebounds. Almost every Sailor on the team made a basket.
That’s what Hansen likes to cheer fo,r and he draws his inspiration from NCAA teams.
“I think Duke’s bench goes crazy because a lot of time, they just blow people out,” Hansen said. “Since I was a little kid, I’ve always liked our team. A team where everybody scores seven points rather than one person dunking in 40 is more fun because you’re just building friendships.”
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