Steamboat boys basketball notches 20th win of the season going into playoffs |

Steamboat boys basketball notches 20th win and joint Western Slope title

Sailors junior Ethan Pyles dribbles around defenders against Summit on Saturday, Feb. 16, at Steamboat Springs High School. (Photo by Leah Vann)

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 1:50 p.m. to reflect the correct game records for Steamboat Springs High School and Summit High School boys basketball teams.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Not all wins are guaranteed, even if the top team in the Western Slope League plays the bottom.

There’s a visible contrast between the Steamboat Springs High School (20-3, 11-1) and Summit High School (5-18, 0-12) warmup schemes even before they hit the court. The Sailors are methodical and smooth, making every shot as they go through their lines. The Tigers were relaxed, taking shots from all over the court.

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

Yet the Tigers knew they had nothing to lose, and they played like it, blocking the Sailors’ shots and holding them to eight points in the first quarter.

After smashing the Glenwood Springs Demons (18-5, 11-1), 72-46 on Saturday, Feb. 9, and adding a 47-36 defeat of the Eagle Valley Devils (8-13, 3-9) on Thursday, Feb. 14, the Sailors were used to their shots falling where they wanted them, but when they weren’t in the first half against the Tigers, they played tight.

The Sailors started to find a groove, but kept it close, stretching a 21-16 lead at half. At the end of the third quarter, the Tigers had narrowed that to a 32-28 score, but the Sailors took control in the fourth to stomp out the Tigers, 54-35.

“Today’s game I think was good for us,” Sailors head coach Michael Vandahl said. “The shots weren’t falling like they have in the past few games, and I think we got tight, regressed a little bit. It’s a good reminder, because we’re going to be at home for playoffs the next few games, and we’ll have to stick to what we do possession by possession and stick to our defense.”

Steamboat senior Mac Riniker launches a shot against Summit on Saturday, Feb. 16 at Steamboat Springs High School. (Photo by Leah Vann)

The shots took a while to fall, but once they did, they fell with a vengeance. Steamboat senior Mac Riniker stole three balls for dunks in the second half, and that was just the cherry on top to shooting 92 percent from the field for 31 points, including one 3-pointer and making all four of his free throws. He also added 13 assists and 27 rebounds.

Senior Tyler Doyne added an eight-point performance, including making six of nine freethrows.

The top-16 teams in the RPI standings will receive first-round byes for playoffs. Steamboat is currently No. 3 in the standings, meaning it could host district playoff games Saturday, Feb. 23, and Wednesday, Feb. 27. If the Sailors drop in the standings, they will play Wednesday, Feb. 20. The Sailors find out their playoffs fate Sunday.

With the win, the Sailors also share the Class 4A Western Slope title.

“It’s an accomplishment to get 20 wins in a season, it’s a grind,” Vandahl said.

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

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