Steamboat boys basketball out to earn respect |

Steamboat boys basketball out to earn respect

Sailors open state tourney tonight

— Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball coach Luke DeWolfe said there's a lack of respect shown for the Western Slope League when it comes to seeding in the state's postseason basketball tournament.

Steamboat, the second-place team in the Western Slope League this season, was slotted as a No. 8 seed in one of the four brackets of the 48-team tournament, meaning the tournament selection committee judged at least 28 other teams as better than the Western Slope's No. 2 squad. Two of the four No. 7 seeds, all the No. 6 seeds and one of the No. 5 seeds have a worse winning percentage than the Sailors.

"As a league, we don't feel like we get very much respect," DeWolfe said Monday, preparing for his team's opening-round playoff game set for 7 p.m. today at Kelly Meek Gymnasium in Steamboat Springs.

He said there's only one way to change the perception. One of the league's teams will need to go on a run, and he said it might as well be Steamboat.

The Sailors play Wasson, 10-11 and seventh-place in the Colorado Springs Metro league this season, tonight.

"Our kids look at this as a challenge," DeWolfe said. "One of the things we've had all year is a lot of heart and a never-say-die attitude. Some of our best games have come when we're backed up against a wall or we're playing form behind. This time of year, that kind of attitude can carry you a long way."

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The first task, of course, will be getting past the Thunderbirds, a squad that outside one four-game winning streak early in the season has struggled to maintain any momentum.

They went through an 11-game stretch perfectly alternating wins and losses until they dropped two in a row near the end of the season.

The team is led by 6-foot-4 forward Deven Bernett, who has averaged a double-double in his senior season, scoring 20 points a game and grabbing 10 rebounds.

"He's a guy who's going to score. You have to realize that going in and try and control it and don't let him go off," DeWolfe said. "It will come down to whether or not we can execute defensively against all of their guys and at least slow down the Bernett kid."

The winner of tonight's game earns a trip to play Friday against the quadrant's No. 1 seed, Longmont.

— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail

If you go

What: Steamboat (14-8) vs. Wasson (10-11) boys basketball playoff game

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Steamboat Springs High School

Cost: $6 for adults, $4 for students and senior citizens. High School Activity Passes are not accepted for postseason games.