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Shootout inevitable

Boys b-ball team hosts tourney tonight

Christine Metz

— Since 1997, the Sailors have taken home championship titles after nine of their 11 preseason basketball tournaments. And they hope to make it 10 out of 12 as they head into the Steamboat Shoot-Out tonight.

In a four-team round robin competition, the host will have to beat Roaring Fork, Conifer and Aspen this weekend before it can claim its 10th tournament win.

It was just two weeks ago that Roaring Fork and Steamboat faced off in Carbondale for the championship in the Roaring Fork Tournament. While the Sailors won 59-44, the Rams will be ready to avenge their home-court loss when they play the Sailors tonight at 6:30 p.m.

In their last outing against the Rams, defense was key as the Sailors held Juan Quinto, the Rams’ top scorer, to 12 points. The Sailors also held second-leading scorer Levi Applegate to 11. Sailors coach Kelly Meek said the Rams are a quick team that likes to run the fast break.

But Steamboat’s toughest competition for the weekend might be Saturday night against Aspen, the No. 4-ranked 3A school in the state.

“(Aspen is) very skilled, they shoot the ball deep, they’re really smart and well-balanced inside and outside,” Meek said. “They are definitely the most skilled and talented team in our tournament.”

One of the biggest threats for the Sailors will be 6-foot-4 forward Jeff Brence. Nick Farrell, a three-year starting point guard, will join him.

In the third annual Steamboat tournament, the format has changed from an eight-team elimination tournament to a four-team round robin. Meek said an increase in boys basketball tournaments during the preseason meant far away teams could find closer games, which left fewer teams willing to travel to Steamboat.

On Friday, the Sailors will play Conifer, which plays in the 4A Jefferson County League. Meek said the team returns the vast majority of its players who lost to the Sailors by 10 points last year.

After a close game last Saturday against Rangely that had Steamboat trailing at the half, Meek said the Sailors would need to start executing their game earlier.

“We didn’t execute until the third quarter,” Meek said. “We need patience on both ends of the floor. But we’re going to come around. This is a team that is going to develop through the course of the year.”


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