Come early, stay late, win games: Steamboat girls basketball grabs 1st win in 2 years
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The last recorded win by the Steamboat Springs High School girls basketball team was a 44-40 overtime victory against Summit on Feb. 8, 2016.
That was 1,034 days, 148 weeks and 34 months ago. And the Sailors were tired of it.
A 52-37 win over Conifer High School on Saturday broke the streak.
Following a 53-16 loss to Northridge on Friday, Sailors head coach George Ibarra told the girls they needed to start shooting more outside of practice.
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Why not at 7 a.m. before their final game of the Steamboat Springs Shoot-Out?
“I like to stay after practice and shoot all the time,” junior Jaycee May said. “After our game yesterday, our shots just weren’t falling, so I said, ‘Let’s come in early and try to get our shots to fall.'”
So in the quietness of the morning, before the 9 a.m. games started, the Sailors were already shooting buckets.
“Once you have that idea, our team is that kind of team,” junior Katie Lake said. “Let’s say, when we have a competition where half a team is trying to score more than the other half of the team, and once one team loses, they have to run suicides. The people who win will also go and run suicides with them anyway.”
A small crowd sat on the wooden benches with chipped white paint in the old auxiliary gym at Steamboat Springs High School. Steamboat Springs and Conifer were playing for seventh place.
Conifer had lost its tournament games to Mead and Eagle Valley and was 0-4 so far this year.
The Sailors were well ahead through the final seconds of the fourth quarter of the game, but when freshman Samantha Campbell made the final layup within the last minute, long-awaited cries of victory permeated the gym.
The voices of the Sailors’ girls on the bench cracked as they counted down the final 10, 9, 8, 7 … With each passing second, their voices amplified and their toes bounced.
The clock froze, and the Sailors won their first game in two years, 52-37.
“I hate to say I got a little emotional in there, but it’s been a long time coming,” Ibarra said, coming out of the locker room. “We’ve worked so hard, especially our junior class, the senior there. It’s great just to see that, but we still have a lot of work to do. They know they got a little taste of it, and they want more.”
Campbell and Lake led the team with 12 points each. Ibarra said he’s continuously impressed with senior Lucy Shimek and May’s defensive aggression.
It’s ironic, though, They got the win today. Yesterday, the Sailors played in the new gym, enjoying one of their biggest home crowds.
“At our home games, we don’t really have that many people watch us play,” Lake said. “Yesterday, we had way more people than usual.”
“Yeah, we don’t know how we got that many people to come.” May laughed.
And yet, the energy in the morning hours of the old gym vitalized a team to victory. The girls on the bench barely sat in the second half, cheering as every shot fell.
“We have to have this fire within, with our teammates,” Campbell said. “It can’t all come from the crowd.”
But now that they’ve got a win, maybe more people will come to watch. Maybe more wins will come, too.
“I think this has brought our confidence up a lot,” May said. “Because people are going to ask how we did, and we’re going to say, ‘We won. We played a really good game. We fought for it. We played until the finish. We didn’t stop.”
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