Small in size but big in heart: Steamboat boys basketball prepares for season opener

Steamboat senior Ethan Hoy gears up to take a shot during a Steamboat boys basketball practice on Monday, Nov. 21, 2022.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Reaching the Sweet 16 in three of the last four years and making a run to the Elite Eight just two years ago, Steamboat boys basketball looks to pick up right where it left off. 

A varsity team comprised of four returning seniors and a solid grouping of juniors and sophomores, the players are anxious to get the season going. Head coach Mike Vandahl looks to rely on the leadership of his older players to get the intensity going at the start of the season. 

Steamboat senior Cade Gedeon is one to take on that leadership role but with a high-ankle sprain during the football season, he will need to find a way to lead from the sideline for the first-half of the year. 

He plans to remain a strong voice on the team and keep his teammates in a positive mindset. Gedeon has high hopes for the season and expects to make a splash in the playoffs. 

“This is a super dedicated group,” Gedeon said. “It’s not the tallest and biggest group we’ve had but the younger guys who haven’t played much yet know what they need to do. I think the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight is realistic.”

As they have for many years, the Sailors will put a special emphasis on the defensive side of the ball and hope to continue a stretch as a top defensive scoring team in the league. 

Senior Jay Phillips says that despite a smaller-sized team, all it takes is heart and confidence to make good things happen. 

“We have a really good group,” Phillips said. “We don’t have the biggest team, so what we preach here is to have a lot of heart in your defense and always get on balls that are loose.”

Steamboat senior Jay Phillips goes up for a layup in a boys basketball practice on Monday, Nov. 21, 2022.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The team plays its first game of the season on Dec. 1, in a tournament game against Lutheran at Golden High School. Vandahl thinks the schedule is loaded with tough opponents, which he sees as an advantage to prepare his boys for the playoffs. 

Specific expectations have not yet been discussed with the team as Vandahl wants to focus on the day-to-day operations and get the team ready for the season. 

He says captain selection may not happen until right before the first game next week but he expects every one of his players to be a voice this year. 

“I think our varsity group is really tied together with lots of experience,” Vandahl said. “They are one of the smartest game-IQ teams that we’ve had come through here. They are really far along so we have pretty high expectations for our defense and that kind of stuff.”

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