Last second 3-pointer propels Steamboat Springs boys hoops to Sweet 16 |

Last second 3-pointer propels Steamboat Springs boys hoops to Sweet 16

Steamboat Springs boys basketball coach Mike Vandahl talks to his team during a break in the action in a game against Summit on Jan. 21, 2023. Following a 50-47 victory over Manitou Springs on Wednesday, Feb. 22, the Sailors advance to the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive season.
Eli Pace/Steamboat Pilot & Today

With the season on the line, Steamboat’s hopes of advancing in the Colorado High School Activities Association state tournament came down to the final seconds.

Despite winning the 4A Western Slope division, the Steamboat Springs boys basketball team faced a road game in the opening round of the playoffs on Wednesday, Feb. 22, in Manitou Springs. 

Holding the No. 18 seed in the tournament, the Sailors were up against the No. 15 Mustangs for a back-and-forth game that came down to the final seconds. At the buzzer, the Sailors were ahead 50-47.

Steamboat head coach Mike Vandahl said that throughout the night, neither team led by more than five or seven points, and the lead kept changing throughout the contest.

The Sailors were down by one point when Vandahl called a timeout with 34 seconds left in the game. 

Coming out of the timeout, Steamboat set up a play with senior Cade Gedeon finding sophomore Jeffrey Sturges outside the arc for a 3-pointer. Sturges got the bucket, was fouled on the shot and later nailed his free throw to complete a four-point play.

Sturges led the team in scoring with 19 points and made 50% of his shots from the floor in the game. With a three-point cushion, the Sailors were able to fend off any late Mustang schemes and advance to the Sweet 16. 

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“It was a big game and a big team win,” Vandahl said. “I’m really proud of the guys. Everybody contributed and it was a fun playoff game.”

Steamboat sophomore Jeffrey Sturges drills a 3-pointer in a Steamboat Springs boys basketball game against Summit on Jan. 21, 2023. Sturges cashed a key 3-pointer in Steamboat’s opening playoff game to propel the Sailors to a Sweet 16 matchup on Saturday, Feb. 25.
Eli Pace/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Entering the game, Vandahl knew Manitou would be tough. The Mustangs went 17-7 on the year and averaged nearly 64 points per game.

Steamboat’s defense was able to undercut that average and pull out the victory.

“Manitou is a good team,” Vandahl said. “They had one big at 6-foot-6, he was really talented so we tried to shut him down. They also had another shooter who was pretty good. They got a few points, but we were able to find a way to win.”

Steamboat now advances to the Sweet 16 for the third straight year and fourth time in five years. The Sailors will go up against the winner of No. 2 Resurrection Christian versus No. 31 DSST: Byers on Saturday, Feb. 25.

Resurrection Christian and DSST: Byers were scheduled to play Wednesday night, but due to weather concerns, the game was pushed back to Thursday night, Feb. 23. 

Still dealing with the injury bug, Steamboat hopes to use the next few days to rest and get healthy. For a run to the championship, even more difficult games lie ahead. 

“We’ll hopefully be able to watch the game tonight and get to scout,” Vandahl said. “At practice tomorrow, we’ll come up with a game plan and give it our best shot.”

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