Steamboat Springs basketball team full of potential |

Steamboat Springs basketball team full of potential

Luke Graham

Steamboat's Nathan DePuy plays defense against Hayden's Aaron Cramer during a scrimmage Saturday. The Sailors will have a young team this year, but one loaded with plenty of talent.

— People could see it coming for years.

The Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team has a dynamite sophomore class that has grown together. It started in grade school and has morphed into long bus rides as an Amateur Athletic Union team. And in this 2012-13 season, it is the biggest reason Steamboat potentially could jump into the Western Slope League picture.

But potentially is a dangerous word.

"We can't even talk about a league title right now," Steamboat coach Luke DeWolfe cautioned. "We have a lot to do to get to that point. It's tough enough this year for us to play well early. If we want to play well early, we have a lot to do."

The Sailors feature only two seniors and two juniors. The rest of the lineup is littered with the sophomore class.

Steamboat returns one starter in junior guard Carter Kounovsky. Senior Ben Custer and junior Zach Dunklin are the only two other players who saw significant action last year.

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But that sophomore class oozes talent led by 6-foot-9 forward Garrett Bye.

Bye looked comfortable Saturday in a scrimmage with Hayden. His ability to demand attention in the post opened up the floor for the rest of Steamboat.

"It really opens things up," Kounovsky said. "He's a tall guy we can pass it to and the defense sucks in."

Kounovsky will be leaned upon early on this season. It's a role reversal for Kounovsky, who was the lone sophomore starter on an experienced — but not as skilled — team last season.

The junior looks more comfortable in his role this season. He'll need to be with Dunklin, Custer, Bye and sophomore Brody King flanking him in the early starting lineup.

"Last year, I was a 3-point specialist," he said. "This year, I want to be more of a threat offensively and defensively. I want to be that guy that shuts the opposing team’s best player down."

In Saturday's scrimmage, there were times when Steamboat struggled, but the team also looked great at times, often with the sophomore class leading the way.

Steamboat hasn't had a presence like Bye for years, and 6-foot-9 doesn't grow on trees. Bye looked good and has come a long way in the past two years.

"I'm probably more physical than is legal with him in practice," said Custer, who will bring much-needed toughness to the lineup. "I'm physical with him, and I want him to finish through fouls."

Steamboat will get tested early. The team opens the season Friday at Roaring Fork. It then hosts the Steamboat Springs Shoot-Out before playing league opponents Rifle, Glenwood Springs and Summit before Christmas.

DeWolfe said the goal is to get better as the season goes on, specifically eyeing the season-ending district tournament in Grand Junction.

"We really have the potential to be very good," he said. "But potential is only as good as you make it."

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email