Sailors boys can’t handle Golden in Shoot-Out championship
Steamboat Springs — Once again, the Golden Demons torched Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball’s dreams, though the stakes were different this go around.
Golden eliminated Steamboat from last year’s district playoffs, and the Sailors had a chance at revenge with the Steamboat Shoot-Out championship on the line Saturday — a tournament the host hasn’t won in six years.
Uncharacteristically rough shooting and an extremely slow start sunk Steamboat for the first time this year, 48-33, against Golden.
A night removed from red-hot shooting from beyond the arc, the Sailors couldn’t buy a bucket, especially in the early going. Golden raced out to an 11-1 lead after one quarter and clung to a 22-16 halftime margin.
But a six-point deficit was as close as the Sailors would get the rest of the way. The Demons widened the gap to 10 shortly into the second half and used a pesky zone defense to torment Steamboat’s outside shooting the rest of the way.
“We just didn’t finish our shots and kind of rushed them a little bit,” Sailors coach Luke DeWolfe said. “Once a team like that – a good team – gets a gap, it’s really tough to try and crawl back into it.”
Steamboat’s leading scorer, Carter Kounovsky, was held to zero points after scoring 23 in Friday night’s win. Matthew Lanning, who had 18 points in the second-round win over Montrose, only had six against Golden. Steamboat’s leading scorer, Robi Powers, dropped all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter, the Sailors’ only scoring in the final period.
For a team that often lives and dies by the three-ball, Steamboat’s shots rimmed out time after time Saturday afternoon. Golden’s post presence of Rory MacCallum (nine points, 10 rebounds) and Nick Capaul (11 points, four rebounds) were there to gobble up the loose balls.
“We just didn’t convert the shots we needed to,” DeWolfe said. “I think we were 2-of-16 from three, around like 15 percent. We need to make sure we can hit shots. Last night was a different story. We just need more consistency from that second level.”
Frustrating shooting woes transitioned into early foul trouble, especially for Kounovsky, who sat most of the second quarter after picking up back-to-back fouls. Center Garrett Bye was able to spell Golden’s size for most of the first half, but his seven points and nine rebounds couldn’t save the Sailors.
With Kounovsky having an off day, senior Zach Dunklin pitched in seven first-half points, but the Demons swarmed the guard in the second half. Depth had been a focal point to Steamboat’s 5-0 start heading into the game, but only five Steamboat players got on the scoring sheet in the championship game.
“We hang our hat on the fact that we have 10 guys who can compete on a very high level,” DeWolfe said. “We saw what we needed to work on, and we’ll come back stronger than this and more determined heading into our conference.”
Steamboat has a week break before it heads to Denver to take on Glenwood Springs at 3:30 p.m. Friday in the Sailors’ Western Slope opener at the Pepsi Center for the annual Preps-to-Pros series.
DeWolfe stressed the start of the season will be buried, and league play marks a new test, but should the Sailors end up with Golden in the district playoffs in February, at least one player thinks the Demons won’t spoil another playoff run.
“We were in the locker room saying we would blow this team out if we face them later in the year,” Dunklin said. “We have a lot of confidence.”
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Witches and goblins and ghosts, oh my!