‘Bigger than us’: Steamboat basketball prepares for rivalry games against Moffat County
Rivalry games have a way of getting athletes to compete at a higher level than they knew they could. They bring the adrenaline to an all-time high and are sure to dazzle a crowd every single time.
Dating back decades, the Steamboat Springs and Moffat County rivalry has done exactly that for the fans across all sports, with basketball remaining a top-ticket event.
Steamboat boys basketball’s senior class has never seen a loss to Moffat County on a basketball court, but with the Bulldogs advancing to 4A this season, Moffat County will have two opportunities to steal Steamboat’s crown.
The first of these two matchups is in Steamboat on Friday, Jan. 27, where the 9-5 Sailors look to extend a six-game win streak over a 4-10 Moffat County team.
Steamboat senior Austin Moore says these matchups are always good games and spark extra emotion fans may not see against other league opponents.
“It’s something bigger than us, it’s for our school,” Moore said. “They’ve been our rivals for many years now so it’s about putting on a show for the crowd and hoping we get a win. It’s Steamboat versus Craig, it’s guaranteed to be a good one.”
While Steamboat has gotten the edge over Moffat County for several seasons, the games are often close and come down to the final minutes. Two of the last three matchups were decided by less than five points.
The Sailors are currently undefeated at 6-0 in league play and with Moffat County back in 4A for the first time since the 2011-12 season, this year’s matchups mean more than they have in a decade.
Steamboat’s Cade Gedeon has seen this rivalry through both football and basketball seasons and anticipates high energy and intensity on Friday night.
“Last year, our first game was against Craig and the energy was crazy,” Gedeon said. “Their whole student section was bigger than ours so I’m expecting that again. It’s typically a hostile environment, but everybody played well in that game last year.”
Gedeon loves getting chirped by the Moffat County fans at all games he competes in. He says it gives him motivation to go even harder.
He recalls last season when he was being heckled by Moffat County fans while at the free throw line. He hit both free throws and went on to score 20 points, leading the team to a 56-52 victory to open the season.
Steamboat’s assistant coach Tanner Stillwell played for the Sailors as a student from 2003-2007. He remembers the contentious environments and thinks it will be more like that now with both playing in the same league.
“Back in the day they were always hard fought battles and really competitive games between football and basketball,” Stillwell said. “I always remember that both teams wanted to win really bad and it’s always a close game. It’ll come down to the team that can execute and stay within themselves.”
The Friday night rivalry begins at the Steamboat Springs High School gym at 5:30 p.m. for the girls game, with the boys following at 7 p.m.
Stillwell thinks both games will be exciting for fans and encourages anyone who can make it to come check out two great Steamboat basketball teams in one of the biggest home games of the regular season.
“If you haven’t been to a high school game lately, you’re missing out,” Stillwell said. “It’s such a great atmosphere and our teams are working so hard to put a product on the court that makes Steamboat proud.”
To reach Tom Skulski, call 970-871-4240, email tskulski@SteamboatPilot.com.
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