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Steamboat girls basketball thrives on defense

Steamboat Springs senior Shelbee Weiss dribbles past an Eagle Valley defender in the game on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, at Steamboat Springs High School.
Leah Vann

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Last season was historic for the Steamboat Springs girls basketball team, as the Sailors won their first game in over two years. However, they also endured two lengthy losing streaks in the 2018-19 season, including a season-ending six-game stretch to finish the year 5-18.

“Last year, we were going into it with a pretty low confidence level, just hearing from everyone around the town and around the school,” senior captain Siera Harrison said. “Once we got that first win, we definitely felt a lot better and had positivity and kept winning games. … So this year, we’re feeling pretty good.”

The Lady Sailors have yet to win a game in the early season, but head coach George Ibarra was happy with what he saw at the Brenda Patch Tournament. Despite his team going 0-3 at the tournament, Ibarra said he saw improvement from one half to the next in every single game. He said his defense, which forced 29 turnovers in a game last weekend, is “amazing.”

Still, his girls don’t shoot nearly as much as he’d like them to, so offense is still lacking. 

“That’s our emphasis this week. That’s all we did (Monday). They must have shot 150 shots each,” Ibarra said. “They were all complaining about being sore. … My goal is for them to put up 80 shots. If you shoot 40%, you’re gonna score 40-plus points.”

Steamboat will look for its first win as they host the Steamboat Springs Shootout on Dec. 12 to 14. The action will kick off Thursday when Steamboat hosts Northridge at 8:15 p.m. 

Last winter, the Sailors suffered some narrow losses, the closest being against Palisade, Rifle and Summit. Palisade prevailed 38-30, Rifle won 46-40 and Summit took the season finale from Steamboat 34-29.

“Every year our goal is to beat Summit, because we’ve always been super close with them,” Harrison said. “Palisade, we weren’t expecting to be that close, but they graduated a lot of really tall girls, so we’re expecting a win out of that game for sure.” 

Steamboat Springs girls basketball schedule
  • Dec. 6-7: Steamboat Springs at Roaring Fork, L vs. Coal Ridge 41-12, L vs. Roaring Fork 52-34
  • Dec. 12-14: Steamboat Springs shootout, L vs. Northridge 36-34, L vs. Soroco 44-34
  • Dec. 17: Moffat County at Steamboat Springs, L 44-25
  • Dec. 21: Steamboat Springs at Mitchell, L 38-29
  • Jan. 2-4: Steamboat Springs at Roosevelt, 1-2
  • Jan. 11: Eagle Valley at Steamboat Springs, W 44-38
  • Jan. 17: Palisade at Steamboat Springs, L 29-24
  • Jan. 18: Rifle at Steamboat Springs, L 41-32
  • Jan. 21: Steamboat Springs at Battle Mountain, W 34-30
  • Jan. 25: Steamboat Springs at Glenwood Springs, L 52-21
  • Jan. 28: Steamboat Springs at Eagle Valley, W 50-38
  • Jan. 31: Summit at Steamboat Springs, W 43-37
  • Feb. 8: Steamboat Springs at Palisade, L 35-33
  • Feb. 13: Battle Mountain at Steamboat Springs, W 40-31
  • Feb. 15: Glenwood Springs at Steamboat Springs, 2 p.m.
  • Feb. 20: Steamboat Springs at Rifle, 6 p.m.
  • Feb. 22: Steamboat Springs at Summit, 12:30 p.m.

The Sailors will also aim to defeat Eagle Valley. In the first meeting last winter, Steamboat won by 21 points. However, the Sailors fell on the road, 47-36. Harrison said she and her teammates are looking to “redeem themselves.”

The team has three other seniors in Shelbee Weiss, Jaycee May and Katie Lake. Ibarra expects all to play big roles this year. Another key returner is junior Erica Simmons, a small but mighty point guard.

“She’s a great, great little point guard,” Ibarra said. “Without her in there, we lose a lot.”

Lake will return from an injury in a couple weeks. When she does, she’ll contribute her scoring skills, speed and athleticism.

As for Harrison, she knows her role is to be a leader on and off the court, encouraging her teammates through wins and losses.

“We obviously aren’t a great program, and I’m not a great scorer,” she said. “I’m a better leader than I am a player. The goal this year is to want girls to enjoy playing with us, enjoy playing with the program. So when we leave, we leave this impression that it’s a fun program to be a part of.”

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.


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