Rivalry matchup looms in Shoot-Out tourney
Moffat County vs. Northridge, 3 p.m., old gym
Eagle Valley vs. Pueblo Centennial, 6:30 p.m., old gym
Montrose vs. Prarie View, 4:45 p.m., new gym
Steamboat Springs vs. Discovery Canyon, 8:15 p.m., new gym
Northridge vs. Roosevelt, 3 p.m., new gym
Eagle Valley vs. Montrose, 4:45 p.m., old gym
Steamboat Springs vs. Moffat County, 6:30 p.m., new gym
Pueblo Centennial vs. Colorado Academy, 8:15 p.m., old gym
Steamboat Springs — Maybe it’s because the rivalry is about to get its annual renewal, or maybe it’s because the rivalry was so intense that even a decade later the details linger.
“We were 7-1,” Michael Vandahl said without a moment’s hesitation.
Now the head coach of the Steamboat Springs High School boys team, Vandahl played on the team from 2004 to 2009, and in his eight matchups against rival Moffat County, two per season, he only lost once.
“We were sophomores, and it was at their place,” he said. “They just beat us. We were young and had three sophomores starting. They had a good team that year.”
The others things he remembers about those games? The crowds. They were huge as the fan bases took turns filling their opponent’s gyms.
The Sailors and the Bulldogs don’t meet these days like they used to. Steamboat is one division above Moffat County in the state classifications, so the schools are in different leagues and their annual home-and-home series is no more.
This year, however, they’ll play twice again. One game, set for Dec. 16 in Craig, was already scheduled.
The other comes at 6:30 p.m. Thursday night in the opening round of the annual Steamboat Shoot-Out tournament in Steamboat Springs.
“It will be like old times,” Vandahl said.
The tournament, featuring eight boys teams and eight girls teams, will begin at 3 p.m. Thursday with the first matchup, between the Northridge and Roosevelt high school boys teams, in the main gymnasium and between Moffat County and Northridge girls teams in the old gym.
Eagle Valley, Montrose, Pueblo Centennial and Colorado Academy make up the rest of the boys bracket.
The Steamboat girls team will play Discovery Canyon at 8:15 p.m. Thursday in the new gym. Eagle Valley, Pueblo Centennial, Montrose and Prairie View make up that bracket.
The action will run in both gyms from 3 p.m. games to 8:15 p.m. games on Thursday and Friday.
The final round will take place starting at 9 a.m. Saturday and will finish up with 2:15 p.m. championship games.
For both Steamboat’s boys and girls teams, the weekend offers a prized chance for a long weekend at home in front of the home crowd.
“They’re excited,” said George Ibarra, coach for the Steamboat girls team. “They’re excited because people in the community have been talking to them, telling them, ‘We’ll be out to watch. We’re going to be there to support you.’”
Ibarra said he’s pleased with the progress his team has made early this season. It dropped its first two games last weekend on the road at a tournament at Roaring Fork High School, but he found both positives and things to work on.
“Our aggressiveness wasn’t there,” he said. “This week we’ve ben working on being more aggressive, and working on rebounding. Our rebounding was not the greatest.”
As for the boys, they’re heading into the weekend with a 1-1 record after their own tournament trip to Roaring Fork. Moffat County, coached by Eric Hamilton, is 1-2.
“They’re going to be solid,” Vandahl said. “I’ve got great respect for their coach and his teams mirror his attitude. They’re tough and lay it all on the line.
“These kids, they’ll never know what it used to be like against Moffat County when we used to be in the same league, but it’s still a rivalry,” Vandahl added. “These games always come down to the wire. It doesn’t matter what the records are.”
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