Sailors lose heartbreaking game from beyond the arch against Demons |

Sailors lose heartbreaking game from beyond the arch against Demons

Steamboat Springs senior Mac Riniker soars through the air for a dunk against Glenwood Springs on Saturday, Jan. 19 at Steamboat Springs High School. (Photo by Leah Vann)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Springs Sailors (11-2, 2-0)  didn’t know it yet, but a momentum shift in the third quarter would cost them the game.

A certain sequence of events set the pace for the Glenwood Springs Demons (10-4, 3-0) to close out a 54-51 win.

“There’s a lot to be learned. One of our big core values is to get to the next play and stay present, and I really felt like we did not do that tonight,” Sailors coach Michael Vandahl said. “I told the boys all week that the team that was mentally tougher and more mentally level would win.”

Steamboat boys basketball

Nov. 29: at Centaurus, L 45-34
Nov. 30: at D’Evelyn, W 64-50
Dec. 1: at Sierra, W 61-59 (OT)
Dec. 6: vs. Frederick, W 78-48
Dec. 7: vs. Colorado Academy, W 69-58
Dec. 8:
vs. Conifer, W 60-34
Dec. 11: at Moffat County, W 56-40
Dec. 15: vs. Mead, L 67-55
Jan. 3: at Skyview, W 51-35
Jan. 4: at Pueblo County, W 48-38
Jan 5: at Denver West, W 62-28
Jan. 11: at Palisade, W 52-38
Jan. 12: at Rifle, W 61-47
Jan. 19: vs. Glenwood Springs, L 54-51
Jan. 22: vs. Eagle Valley, W 68-47
Jan. 25: at Summit, W 53-40
Jan. 31: vs. Rifle, W 59-53
Feb. 2: vs. Palisade, W 50-28
Feb. 5: at Battle Mountain, W 53-47
Feb. 6: vs. Battle Mountain, W 41-32
Feb. 9: at Glenwood Springs, W 72-46
Feb. 14: at Eagle Valley, W 71-32
Feb. 16: vs. Summit, 54-35

It started with Demons senior Chano Gonzalez sinking in his first of four 3-pointers, adding to his total of a 14-point run.

Gonzalez went head-to-head with Sailors senior Aden Knaus. Knaus followed up Gonzalez’s 3-pointer with a layup, then Gonzalez added another 3. Knaus got his 3-pointer from the top of the key, then Gonzalez added his third 3-pointer. The Sailors still held a lead, 35-30, but Gonzalez added a layup, then followed with another 3-pointer to tie the game at 35-35.

Steamboat Springs senior Mac Riniker flies through the air for a layup against Glenwood Springs on Saturday, Jan. 19 at Steamboat Springs High School. (Photo by Leah Vann)

Sailors senior Tyler Doyne stripped the ball from Demons’ senior Angel Garcia’s hand, then Garcia caught it to regain possession. Sailors senior Mac Riniker knocked it loose again, bounce-passing it down court to senior Dawson Lindquist to give the Sailors a 37-35 edge.

But Garcia got revenge, adding a fifth 3-pointer to the Demons’ tally in the third quarter to take a 38-37 lead. Following back-to-back layups by both teams, Riniker gave the Sailors a 41-40 edge. Demons junior Mitchell Burt then closed out the third quarter on a high note, making the sixth 3-pointer of the quarter to grab a 43-41 lead over the Sailors.

“I was really disappointed because those were guys we had scouted as 3-point shooters,” Vandahl said. “I think the moment was too big, and we forgot our scouting report.”

Steamboat Springs junior Connor Hansen dribbles the ball against Glenwood Springs on Saturday, Jan. 19 at Steamboat Springs High School. (Photo by Leah Vann)

The fourth quarter was another back and forth battle, where the Demons and Sailors tied it up at 47-47, 49-49 and 51-51.

Both teams went scoreless for almost five minutes before Garcia clocked in the final 3-pointer for the Demons 54-51 with 33 seconds left. Knaus’ shot bounced off the rim, eliminating any chances of an overtime.

“Late game situations always come down to fundamentals,” Vandahl said. “We missed a really key box-out and forced a bad shot. We didn’t get the rebound. And it’s always hard in those tough situations. They ended up getting the 3.”

The Sailors fouled the Demons in the back court, stopping the clock and calling timeouts to buy time, but ultimately, they came short of a turnover opportunity and lost the game 54-51.

The Sailors had led the Demons 14-8 in the first and 25-21 at half, but couldn’t maintain a lead. In an ominous rival atmosphere, Vandahl said the Demons took the high road when it came to controversial calls, whereas the Sailors chose to live in the past.

“We were constantly talking to the refs and complaining about calls,” Vandahl said. “They were the more mature team. They got to the next play before we did.”

The third-quarter momentum shift was almost a result of that, where the Demons made six 3-pointers. Riniker finished the game with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Knaus had 19 points, including five 3-pointers. As a team, the Sailors only had seven offensive rebounds, but 28 defensive rebounds. They turned the ball over 14 times and amassed 11 fouls.

“Anytime we play a team like that, every year, it’s been like this,” Vandahl said. “Maybe I need to do a better job as a coach. I know they wanted it really bad, but they’ve got to stay level and not want it so bad you get in the way of yourself.”

To reach Leah Vann, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @LVann_Sports.

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