Hitting the road | SteamboatToday.com

Hitting the road

Steamboat boys, girls prepare for away games

— Good teams win at home.

Really good teams win on the road.

And championship teams overcome adversity and still win.

That’s what Steamboat Springs boys basketball coach Kelly Meek has been telling his players all week as they prepare to hit the road for today’s 7:30 p.m. game in Delta and Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. at Palisade.

It’s the part of overcoming adversity that sparks Meek. After the Sailors lost Richie Keith to a torn ACL earlier in the year, leading scorer Aaron Calkins re-aggravated an ankle injury in practice early in the week.

Then, senior guard Tanner Stillwell found out he has a stress fracture in his lower leg.

Meek said Calkins will be a game-time decision and that Stillwell is expected to play this weekend.

Despite the injuries, Meek remained upbeat about the Sailors’ (13-3 overall, 8-0 in league play) chances of remaining atop the Western Slope League.

“We need to really go down and focus on these two games,” he said. “We need to keep our concentration on the possession at hand and not on the end result. It’s an important weekend.”

In both games, Meek said the Sailors will have to deal with some of the top scorers in the league.

Delta’s 6-foot-5-inch Mic-

hael Bear averages more than 18 points per game, while Palisade guards Mark Douglass and Chris Williams combine for 34 points per game.

Meek said it will be integral to slow those players down, but he said Delta (7-5, 4-3) and Palisade (11-5, 5-3) present several other challenges.

Mainly, the games will feature two contrasting styles.

The Panthers and Bulldogs like to play up-tempo games, while the Sailors rely on set plays and stingy defense to wear down opponents. Palisade in particular – the Bulldogs have scored more than 75 points in a game seven times this year – likes to get into a shootout.

Steamboat beat Palisade 70-60 earlier in the year.

Meek said controlling the tempo of the game -taking away the transition baskets and home crowds – will be key to the Sailors’ success this weekend.

“They don’t work the ball like we do,” he said. “It’s a different look for us and we’re a different look for the them.”

On the girls side, Steamboat coach John Ameen said he’s hoping the improvement the team has shown in recent weeks will be enough to vault them into the sixth and final Western Slope League spot in the state playoffs.

Ameen said Delta (5-7, 5-2) and Palisade (8-9, 5-4) are very similar in that both teams rely on inside scoring.

While the Sailors (1-12, 1-7) haven’t played the Panthers this year, they led 24-22 at halftime during an earlier contest against the Bulldogs, before Palisade’s inside game took over.

Ameen said he has focused on half court offensive sets and shooting this week to help the Sailors get out of their recent offensive funk.

“This is the time we can make that run and take care of business,” he said. “Really make a statement at the end of the year.”

– To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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