Steamboat boys, Bulldogs look to be evenly matched in Friday’s opener |

Steamboat boys, Bulldogs look to be evenly matched in Friday’s opener

— On paper, Friday’s matchup with Moffat County looks to be just about even. But things on paper never hold much weight in games against Steamboat’s biggest rival.

Both teams stand with a 5-2 record, return three players with varsity time and have a dominant point guard. Those factors have Bulldogs coach Blaine Corlett calling the first league competition of the season a great high school basketball game and Sailors coach Kelly Meek looking at a very similar team.

“They’re two very evenly matched teams,” Meek said. “Both teams lost a lot of numbers but are returning some key players. It’s evenly matched in terms of depth.”

The Bulldogs’ trio of last year’s varsity veterans, point guard Kyle Hazelwood, post Anthony Loughran and wing Mike Charchalis, will be met with a Sailors team that is returning its varsity experience in the same positions with point guard Jeff Aragon, post Alex Mackey and wing Ryan Scheer.

“Four people average in the double figures, it’s not just a team where you focus on any one individual,” Meek said. “But we do have to work hard to contain their point guard, Kyle Hazelwood.”

Hazelwood looks to be the Sailors’ biggest threat as he leads the team in scoring, averaging 17.14 points per game this season. As the two teams’ leading scorers, the point guard position should be a classic matchup, pitting Hazelwood against Aragon, who has averaged 13.14 points per game.

But after injuring his ankle in the game against Grand Junction Central, Aragon is questionable to play. Meek said Wednesday Aragon had not practiced for the past two days because of the injury that pulled him out of Saturday’s game in the second half.

Mackey, who sat out of Saturday’s game, and Scheer, who came out with an injury early in the first half, will both be returning to the court Friday night. And for Corlett the return of 6-foot-5 Mackey is not good news.

“With Mackey, they have an advantage inside height-wise. Obviously, with him playing, it makes them a taller team,” Corlett said. “But we’ve played against big kids all year, 6-10, 6-8, and they kept right there with them.”

Mackey, who leads the Sailors with nine rebounds per game, will most likely be matched up with 6-foot-2 Loughran, the Bulldogs’ second top rebounder with 6.5 per game.

The Bulldogs’ top rebounder is 6-foot-1 Charchalis, who averages 8.7 per game and has put in 10.85 points per game.

The Sailors will also be watching Pablo Loya, a 5-foot-10 junior who has made his mark this season as a 3-point shooter. Loya is the second leading scorer as he averages 14.2 points per game.

Both Meek and Corlett point to defense and rebounding as keys to winning the first game in the 4A Western Slope League.

But Meek said his team should be ready for anything on defense as the Bulldogs have been known to come out with man-to-man and zone coverage and have used full-court press and a half-court trap.

Of the two losses, both Moffat County and Steamboat dropped one game against Aspen. The Sailors lost to the Skiers 45-43 in the championship game of the Steamboat Shoot-Out and the Bulldogs lost 69-53 in their first game of the season.

But the coaches say those games cannot be used to predict the outcome of Friday’s matchup.

Meek said the Moffat County vs. Aspen game was a more fast-paced, open-court game with fast breaks than Steamboat’s game with Aspen, a half-court battle with less scoring.

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