Steamboat sails over the Warriors in home tournament opener |

Steamboat sails over the Warriors in home tournament opener

Sailors senior Mac Riniker drives to the basket against Frederick in the first game of the Steamboat Springs Shoot-Out on Thursday, Dec. 6 at Steamboat Springs High School. (Photo by: Leah Vann)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs senior Aden Knaus opened the game with a 3-pointer.

The Steamboat Springs Sailors had won the opening tip against Frederick, taking the ball down court. Knaus launched a line drive from the outer left edge of the court and lifted the crowd to its feet as the 3-pointer smoothly brushed the net.

It was just one of the eight 3-pointers the Sailors would make that night, propelling them to a 78-48 victory over the Warriors.

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

Frederick took a while to get the ball rolling. The Sailors caught seemingly every rebound, totaling 47, and 17 of those would be on offense. Sailors senior Mac Riniker finished the game with 13 rebounds, while senior Tyler Doyne followed with 11.

“The offensive rebounding was really big,” head coach Michael Vandahl said. “We’ve really been stressing how that could be a strength for us.”

The shots were falling perfectly, and  Riniker led the charge with 30 points on the night. Doyne had 16 and Knaus 11. Both Riniker and Doyne finished the night with double-double performances.

“Really pleased with how we moved it and how we shared it,” Vandahl said. “There were a lot of guys with 3-point shots, but I was really pleased with how we attacked the zone, attacked the rim and went right at them.”

But it was the little things that made those points possible.

Riniker, although the top scorer, shined on defense. He had 13 rebounds and three steals.

Early in the first quarter, Riniker intercepted a pass downcourt off a Frederick rebound, then turned around to knock in a layup. When the Warriors regained possession, Riniker stayed behind in the press, intercepting the pass inbounds and bouncing in his next step to tap the ball in the net.

“Mac started as a freshman because of his defense,” Vandahl said. “And now his offensive game is catching up. He’s a really complete player.”

Sailors senior Aden Knaus throws up a shot against Frederick in the first game of the Steamboat Springs Shoot-Out on Thursday, Dec. 6 at Steamboat Springs High School. (Photo by: Leah Vann)

In the second quarter, Riniker charged down court, knocking away a Warriors’ shot for the opening block of the game. He’d do it one more time in the second half, amplifying the energy in the gym.

“We love our home crowd,” Vandahl said. “Our bench has been really good this year. They’ve been really loud and encouraging our guys, and we’re feeding off that energy.”

The Sailors left little room for mistakes, taking an 18-9 lead in the first quarter and maintaining a comfortable 37-27 lead at half. By the end of the third quarter, the Sailors had extended the lead to 63-35 before they finished the Warriors off 78-48.

That first win set the tone for the Steamboat Springs Shootout. The Sailors hope to keep the championship trophy at home.

“It’s just move on to the next game. We can’t get too high about this,” Vandahl said. “It’s one game. We need to come back with the same mentality and same urgency and take it one game at a time and one possession at a time.”

The Sailors move on to play the winner of Colorado Academy and Woodland Park at 8:15 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7.

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

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