Routt County teams prepare for Steamboat Shoot-Out |

Routt County teams prepare for Steamboat Shoot-Out

Luke Graham

Brody King works the ball up the court against teammate Mitch McCannon during a drill Tuesday afternoon at Steamboat Springs High School. The Sailors were preparing for Thursday's 6:30 p.m. game against Montezuma-Cortez as part of the Steamboat Springs Shoot-Out. The Steamboat Springs girls will play at 8:15 p.m. against Montezuma-Cortez.

— The annual Steamboat Springs Shoot-Out basketball tournament signifies that winter sports are here.

The tournament typically draws in top competition from across the region in boys and girls tournaments, and this year is no different.

The boys field is led by D'Evelyn, a preseason No. 4 in Class 4A, and a team that made the Great 8 last year. The girls side might be even more stacked. The D'Evelyn girls are the No. 5 team in preseason polls. Elizabeth and Montrose also received votes in the preseason Denver Post poll.

The last time a Steamboat team won the tournament was in 2007. In addition to Steamboat boys and girls teams, the Hayden boys basketball team will take part this year. The Tigers will be the smallest school in the boys bracket, but they might also be the most intriguing.

A look ahead at the Shoot-Out, which begins Thursday and runs through Saturday:

Hayden boys

The Hayden boys got an initial warmup game, beating cross-county rival Soroco in its opener.

Recommended Stories For You

When the team opens at 3 p.m. Thursday against Green River, Wyo., it certainly will be the biggest test of the year for Hayden.

The team typically goes to the Meeker Cowboy Shootout, but coach Mike Luppes said the team decided last spring that the Steamboat tournament would be more beneficial.

"We sat with our kids and talked that we never had a team that won the Meeker tournament," Luppes said. "The potential is there. There was potential there for us this year to go win that. But it was unanimous. Everyone wanted to come to Steamboat."

Luppes said the biggest part was for the competition. While a tournament win looks good, Luppes said playing better competition early will help out later in the season.

The Tigers also got some good news: Forward Jorge Valdez will return to the lineup after missing the Soroco game. Valdez averaged 12 points and 12 rebounds per game last year.

Hayden also has scoring punch in senior guard Paul Laliberte and forward Mark Doolin. Hayden's talented enough to make noise in Class 2A, but it will be interesting to see how the Tigers handle the predominately Class 4A field.

"It doesn't matter who we play; it'll be a challenge for us," Luppes said. "It's a quality field."

Steamboat boys

There weren't any huge revelations from the opening week of basketball for Steamboat Springs boys coach Luke DeWolfe.

He has talent, but it's young.

The Sailors, who beat smaller schools Basalt and Roaring Fork last week, had their core of sophomores play well.

Junior guard Carter Kounovsky led Steamboat in the tournament and will be looked to again to provide scoring punch when the team opens at 6:30 p.m. Thursday against Montezuma-Cortez.

The tournament becomes all the more important for Steamboat as the team begins a portion of its league schedule before the holiday break. Because the league is going to a district tournament format for the postseason, Steamboat won't attend a tournament in Green River, Wyo., next week like it normally does.

Instead the team plays three league games before breaking for the holidays.

DeWolfe said that means the Shoot-Out really becomes the last time his team can refine things before games start to really matter.

"Now you turn around right after this and the games are important and matter," he said. "That changes the importance of this tournament."

Steamboat girls

Despite picking up two wins last week, Steamboat Springs girls basketball coach John Ameen said he and his staff were fairly critical of the team's performance.

"We wrapped up our conversation from the weekend with the good news being if you want to work and improve, then we're not anywhere near what we can be," he said.

Steamboat was without a core of its rotation in the opening two games and will have to mix and match rotations again this weekend.

Steamboat opens at 8:15 p.m. Thursday against Montezuma-Cortez.

The good thing for Ameen is this is probably the deepest team he has had. The Sailors could go nine to 10 players deep. As with the boys, this tournament is the last warmup before the league season begins.

Ameen said after the opening couple of games, he still is tinkering with his rotation.

With the experience, Ameen said he expects the Sailors to do well in the Shoot-Out.

"We have the rotation, capability and talent to do well," he said. "But every year, some teams we play in this tournament are more progressed than us."

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email

Steamboat Springs Shoot-Out Thursday schedule

Girls bracket

Discovery Canyon vs. Green River, Wyo., 3 p.m. (auxiliary gym)

Elizabeth vs. Montrose, 4:45 p.m. (new gym)

D’Evelyn vs. Rifle, 6:30 p.m. (auxiliary gym)

Steamboat Springs vs. Montezuma-Cortez, 8:15 p.m. (new gym)

Boys bracket

Hayden vs. Green River, Wyo., 3 p.m. (new gym)

Rifle vs. Montrose, 4:45 p.m. (auxiliary gym)

Steamboat Springs vs. Montezuma-Cortez, 6:30 p.m. (new gym)

D’Evelyn vs. Fruita-Monument, 8:15 p.m. (auxiliary gym)