Sailors boys basketball wins slugfest against visiting Palisade
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team was hit in the mouth in the first quarter against arguably the most physical 4A Western Slope League team in Palisade.
But it’s what the Sailors did the remaining 24 minutes that made the difference — winning the 50-50 balls, snagging rebounds and throwing punches back.
The Bulldogs rushed out to a 15-3 lead in the opening minutes and the Sailors battled back quickly, outscoring Palisade in each of the final three quarters to an eventual victory, 55-47. It was Steamboat’s fifth straight win.
“That’s why I love this team,” senior Hector Lopez said. “We don’t give up. We just work hard and don’t like failing.”
Lopez played a key role in the win, especially defensively. Steamboat leading scorer Robi Powers had nine points at halftime, but picked up his fourth foul just a minute into the second half. With Powers on the bench for most of that time, Lopez, Brody King and Jordan Frye played lock-down backcourt defense and helped the Sailors open up an enormous lead late in the fourth quarter.
Palisade’s physical brand of basketball worked well on the admittedly unprepared Sailors. The Bulldogs took vicious hacks at Steamboat center Garrett Bye and looked determined to punish any Sailors guard that dared to strike inside.
Even with Powers’ foul trouble and plenty of whistles blown against either side by officials, Steamboat wore on Palisade and improved to 12-4 and 9-1 in conference play.
“This game wasn’t going to be won or lost in the first quarter,” Steamboat coach Luke DeWolfe said. “It’s possession by possession. When you get down, the way you get back into it is with defensive stops. That will get you going offensively.”
King slashed his way to a game-high 14 points to go along with a pair of assists. Bye shrugged off the Bulldogs’ physicality to net another double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Powers pitched in 11 points while Lopez had eight points, mostly from the free-throw line.
Palisade’s Quincy Campbell got red hot early, scoring 12 points in the first half. In the second half, he was locked down by Lopez and Frye and held to zero points. Ian Schierland led the Bulldogs with 11 points, nine of which came in the second half.
“We really matched their physicality and really countered some of the things they wanted to do,” DeWolfe said. “Our defensive intensity was fantastic. Our rebounding was tremendous in that second half.”
The Sailors out-rebounded the Bulldogs, 30-21, and 16-10 in the second half.
It was Steamboat’s third game of the week, but now the squad gets seven days away from game action to prepare for another home contest with Delta on Saturday. The Sailors can expect much of the same style of play from the Panthers as they saw in the Bulldogs.
“You have to be ready to win the hustle plays,” DeWolfe said about playing Delta. “It’s a war for 32 minutes.”
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