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Steamboat Sailors girls basketball blasts Eagle Valley Devils in home game

Steamboat Springs junior Katie Lake storms down court after stealing the ball against Eagle Valley on Tuesday, Jan. 22, at Steamboat Springs High School. (Photo by Leah Vann)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The bleachers were full and so were the Sailors’ baskets.

The excitement wasn’t underplayed for a team that averages just over 19 points per game and had two wins going into the game. The players on the bench stood up in the final six seconds to count down the win, and when the alarm rang, the crowd rose to its feet.

“It was an amazing turnout, and that pumps the girls up. They love to see more people,” Sailors head coach George Ibarra said. “Hopefully, we’ll start getting more people in. I know it’s hard to watch a team that loses, but this is a whole different team. They’re starting to click together.”

Steamboat Springs High School girls basketball team (3-12) won what appeared to be an evenly matched game handily, 44-23, against the Eagle Valley Devils (2-11) on Tuesday.

As the game progressed, the Sailors grew more comfortable, putting up double-digit numbers in three of the four quarters.  They set up their offense patiently and took strategic looks. Then, there were times they just went for it.

“They really hustled,” Ibarra said. “They were all over the floor, and also, we were very patient. We weren’t just throwing the ball. They had a chip on their shoulder. They should’ve won against Palisade. They should’ve won against Rifle. They want to come back and meet up with those teams.”

During the third quarter, Sailors junior Katie Lake interrupted the rhythm of a dribble, snatching the ball and sprinting down court for a layup. That was merely one of Lake’s 10 steals that night, which capped off a triple-double performance including 14 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore Rose Epstein was the second leading scorer with six points.

“That’s the best I’ve seen her ever play,” Ibarra said. “The hustle is incredible. That’s all we asked for this week. We have a very fast team. We’re very quick.”

A few minutes later, sophomore Mollie Brown received a pass on the outside. The defense was fooled, and no defenders were in sight. She lined her shot, a perfect line lob from the far left side of the basket, making a 3-pointer. That 3-pointer lifted the Sailors to a 34-21 lead going into the final quarter.

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

The Sailors coasted to a win in the final quarter, scoring 10 points to cap off a 44-23 win. Although winning isn’t everything, it was still a product of their hard work, something that Ibarra has emphasized for years.

“They come back because we, as coaches, are always reassuring them. If you quit, you’re never going to accomplish anything,” Ibarra said. “This comes from a great coach I had in high school, he told me, ‘You quit, and you’ll always be a quitter.”‘

Through two straight winless seasons, the roster hasn’t changed beyond graduations. This is the year that coming back is starting to pay off. The Sailors have won three games and have lost four games by less than a 10-point margin.

“It’s the life lessons, not the losses,” Ibarra said. “Look at the lessons they’ve learned. You will never see these girls quit. That’s what makes me so proud of this team.”

The Sailors travel to Summit High School at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 25.

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


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