Best in the West: Steamboat senior voted Slope’s top baller | SteamboatToday.com
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Best in the West: Steamboat senior voted Slope’s top baller

Ethan Riniker blocks a shot during a game against Moffat County earlier this season. This week Riniker was named Player of the Year in the Western Slope League.
Joel Reichenberger

Season highlights

Jan. 10 vs. Battle Mountain, 39-37 win

29 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks

Dec. 12 vs. Moffat County, 58-38 win

21 points, 7 rebounds, 8 steals, 5 assists 3 blocks

Feb. 16 vs. Summit, 56-47 win

23 points, 14 rebounds

Feb. 14 vs. Rifle, 35-23 win

22 points, 10 rebounds

Feb. 9 vs. Glenwood Springs, 54-41 win

14 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals

Sailors Shooting Stars

Steamboat Players of the Year through last 40 years

1977 — Craig Poulter (Tied with Brett Winder of Moffat County. He scored 49 points in a single game and still holds the team's scoring average record at 29.1 points per game.)

1978 —Dan Sarlo

1981—Dan Hudspeth

1983—Ron Chamberlain

1986—Jon Baskin (Sailors record holder in career points and rebounds)

1992—Anthony Barrett

1995—Matt Lucas

1997—Tyson Johnston

1998—Tyson Johnston

1999— Ron Schnackenberg

2000—David Marsh

2005—Cameron Burney

2007—Aaron Calkins

2008 —Michael Vandahl

2017 —Ethan Riniker

— Steamboat Springs senior Ethan Riniker wants to be remembered as a good teammate. He wants to be remembered for his efforts on the court, and he wants to be remembered for the things he and his teammates accomplished on the hardwood this season.

But the Sailors’ 6-foot-2 inch, 165-pound point guard hopes the impression he leaves will go beyond wins and losses to inspire other players in the program that has been a part of his life for as long as he can remember.

“I was not the most naturally gifted athlete out there,” Riniker said. “So, I guess the thing I want to be remembered for is how much hard work I put into the game. Nothing was ever given to me, and I had to go out and earn all of it. I want other players to see what they can realize and the rewards that are possible if you put in the work.”

That hard work paid off this season as the Sailors won their final seven games to win the Western Slope League title with an 8-4 record. Riniker was also honored earlier this week when he was named the league’s Player of the Year.

“It’s a testament to his work in the offseason and to his dedication to this team,” coach Michael Vandahl said Thursday morning. “This is a fitting reward for all the hard work he has put in during the off-season and during the season.”

Sailors Shooting Stars

Steamboat Players of the Year through last 40 years

1977 — Craig Poulter (Tied with Brett Winder of Moffat County. He scored 49 points in a single game and still holds the team’s scoring average record at 29.1 points per game.)

1978 —Dan Sarlo

1981—Dan Hudspeth

1983—Ron Chamberlain

1986—Jon Baskin (Sailors record holder in career points and rebounds)

1992—Anthony Barrett

1995—Matt Lucas

1997—Tyson Johnston

1998—Tyson Johnston

1999— Ron Schnackenberg

2000—David Marsh

2005—Cameron Burney

2007—Aaron Calkins

2008 —Michael Vandahl

2017 —Ethan Riniker

The league announced the end-of-season honor earlier this week after coaches met to name all-conference selections and other post-season honors. The Sailors’ season came to an end Feb. 22 with a 51-47 loss to Windsor in the opening round of the state playoffs.

Riniker becomes the latest in a long list of Steamboat Springs High School players who have won the honor, but he is the first since the 2008 season. That year, his head coach Vandahl won the honor.

Other winners from Steamboat Springs in the last four decades include Craig Poulter (1977), Dan Sario (1978), Dan Hudspeth (1981), Ron Chamberlain (1983), Jon Baskin (1986), Anthony Barrett (1992), Matt Lucas (1985), Tyson Johnston (1998, 1999), David Marsh (2000), Cameron Burney (2007) and Vandahl (2008).

Riniker’s win ends a nine-year drought, and he becomes the first player under coach Vandahl to win the honor. He’s the first player coached by someone other than Kelly Meek to win, though Meek helped to coach Riniker this season as a volunteer and has worked with many Steamboat players in individual coaching sessions.

“It says a lot about the jump he made between his junior and senior years,” Meek said of Riniker. “You know that the coaches around the league had to game-plan for him. I think the fact that he was an all-around player really helped him in the voting.”

Riniker was third in the league in scoring, averaging 15.8 points a game. He also averaged 7.1 rebounds per the game and 2.2 steals. Those big stats from the senior helped the Sailors bounce back from a slow start in the league season to win the Western Slope.

The Player of the Year is selected by all the coaches in the Western Slope League. A coach can’t vote for his own player.

“This award tells you a lot about what the other coaches in the league thought about Ethan as a player,” Meek said. “It’s a great honor.”

The former coach said he has developed his own appreciation for Riniker this season and is currently working with the player as he continued to pursue basketball after high school.

Riniker was one of two Sailors named to the first team all-league team. His brother Mac Riniker, who is a sophomore this season, was the other. Steamboat seniors McKenyon King and Jacob Taulman were named all-league honorable mention along with junior Jake Berry.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966


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