Steamboat boys win first-round playoff game over Wheat Ridge
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The last time the gym at Steamboat Springs High School had a true crowd was Feb. 26, 2020, as the Sailors boys basketball team took on Mitchell in a first-round playoff game.
Just over a year later, the first real crowd was allowed into the gym to witness the Sailors host Wheat Ridge on Tuesday.
The first half induced flashbacks of the loss to Mitchell last year, as the No. 6 home team stumbled against the No. 27 visitors. The teams were tied at halftime.
However, the Sailors found themselves again in the third, outsourcing the Farmers 23-4 and winning 66-51.
“Really it was our defense, we always rely on our defense,” Steamboat head coach Michael Vandahl said. “We held them to 4 points in the third quarter, and that’s the story of the game.”
From start to finish, the Sailors were hot in the third quarter. In the first possession, senior Granger Rowan drained a deep 3, giving Steamboat the lead once more. A 3-pointer from Jackson Metzler gave Steamboat its greatest lead yet at 43-30 with three minutes left in the third.
The last time this gym was this loud, was on Feb. 26 2020 when Steamboat lost to Mitchell in a first-round playoff game.— Steamboat Pilot & Today (@steamboatpilot) March 10, 2021
Just over a year later, the Sailors are looking for a different outcome against Wheat Ridge. #COpreps pic.twitter.com/b2T5u0F0xi
“In the first half we were getting all scrambled up,” said Metzler. “So, (in the third) we were settling down and getting into our press break, and we could move the ball from there.”
Steamboat finished the quarter in style. Senior Jake Kreissig hit a 3 to make it 49-32. On the following Farmers possession, Kreissig tipped a pass, and the ball found itself in the arms of Rowan.
The clock ticked under 10 seconds and the crowd counted down. As the fans shouted three, sophomore Cade Gedeon got the ball. He took two steps towards the net and flicked the ball towards the rim. As the buzzer sounded the ball dropped through the net. The Sailors led 51-32.
The Sailors went into the locker room tied with Wheat Ridge at 28. Steamboat led by as much as 10 and held a 26-18 advantage with three minutes left in the half. However, big shots from senior Westin Miller and senior Scotty Kingman helped the Farmers to a 10-2 run, tying the game.
The most disarming thing about the Farmers was their press on defense, which kept the Sailors on their toes when moving into the front court. They had to make more sideways passes rather than vertical passes, which hurt them on more than a few occasions.
“They’re a good team,” Vandahl said. “This is the final 32 teams. They play in a really good conference down in the Front Range. That’s playoff basketball. I thought in the second quarter we started getting tentative and playing into their hands against the press.”
The boys in white led by more than 20 at one point, but the lead shrunk again in the fourth. A 3-pointer from senior Dominic Cross brought the deficit to 11, 57-46 with three minutes remaining.
Steamboat might have been able to get away with their blunders on Tuesday, but when the Sailors host No. 11 Golden in the round of 16 on Thursday, there will be less room for error.
“There were a few turnovers we could have eliminated,” Metzler said. “Sinking our shots, just on threes. In the beginning, a few of us were timid to shoot. We just need to stick it.”
Steamboat Springs 66, Wheat Ridge 51
WR 7 21 4 19 – 51
SS 16 12 23 15 – 66
Scoring: WR, Westin Miller 19, Dominic Cross 12. SS, Jake Kreissig 22, Eric Pollert 10, Cade Gedeon 9, Jackson Metzler 7, Granger Rowan 7, Carter Reistad 6, Kellen Adams 3.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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