Pueblo East hits buzzer beater bringing end to Steamboat Springs boys basketball season
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It was nearly the perfect night for the hometown Steamboat Springs Sailors.
The stands were filled with a thousand fans bringing an energy and noise that has almost never been seen inside the Kelly Meek Gymnasium at Steamboat Spring High School, but as the Sailors left the locker room following the contest with Pueblo East it was clear from the looks on their faces that this night didn’t end the way they had hoped.
“We just made some uncharacteristic mistakes, and had some bad turnovers,” Steamboat junior Dawson Lindquist said after the game. “I think we played hard, and we left it all out on the court, but it just didn’t go our way at the end.”
The end was where the game was decided Wednesday night as Pueblo East junior Darnell Kindred drove the lane, with time running out, and managed to get the layup off his fingers as the final seconds vanished off the game clock. The ball rolled around the rim before falling into the basket as the buzzer sounded to to give the visiting team a 61-59 win.
“That’s playoff basketball,” Pueblo East coach Mike Massaro said as his team left the court. “The atmosphere was outstanding, and that’s why you play the game.”
The shot was the final in a back-and-fourth battle between the hometown Sailors and visiting Eagles to determined which team will take its place among the final eight teams in the state that will still be playing Saturday. It will not be the Sailors.
Solid rebounding, and some key shooting helped the Sailors jump out to a 18-10 lead after the first quarter. The Eagles’ press seemed to take the Sailors out of the game and slowed Steamboat’s offense in the second. By the end of the first half, the Eagle players had put the slow start behind them and Pueblo East held a 32-26 advantage.
“I was upset in the second quarter because we played tentative,” Sailors coach Michael Vandahl said. “At halftime I made it clear that we are not going to play like that and that we are going to go out fighting.”
The two teams were even through the third quarter before Vandahl went to a smaller, quicker lineup in the fourth that gave Steamboat the spark he was looking for.
Ethan Pyles, who finished with 11 points, got the Sailors comeback effort on track early in the final quarter, and for the second game in a row the Sailors got a solid game out of Lindquist who finished with 17 points.
Steamboat’s Tyler Doyne led the team with 19 points despite falling into foul trouble early in the game, and Sailor big man Mac Riniker collected 10 points on the night and 12 rebounds.
On the other side of the court it was Kindred’s night as the Pueblo East junior rolled with 15 points including the game winner. The Eagles were also led by senior Connor Mattorano, who finished the game 11 points, and senior Joe Padula who had 10.
“I’m going to remember my teammates for sure” Riniker said as he left the locker room for the last time. “I have a lot of friends from all four years. We are all super close, and they all come back and watch the games, and come in the locker room and support all of us. It’s great to have everyone stay as a family.”
Vandahl said the crowd, and the support they showed, will make this a night his players will long remember.
“That was the most people that I’ve ever seen in there — even when I played,” said Vandahl, who helped the Sailors to the “Sweet-16” during his senior year back in 2008. ”I’m really disappointed. I really thought that we had chance to get to the Final Four, to be honest with you. But you know it’s playoff basketball, and it didn’t bounce our way tonight.”
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