Steamboat girls basketball has new energy, faces in 2021 |

Steamboat girls basketball has new energy, faces in 2021

Steamboat Springs High School junior Belize Berry scores one of her three 3-pointers during a game against Summit in 2021. (Photo by Shelby Reardon)

The Steamboat Springs High School girls basketball team has seen a culture shift over the past couple of seasons. While searching for more wins, the Sailors have been promoting a feeling of family and fun.

The team has evidently done that well, since more girls than ever have turned out for the program this year. During open gym, about 15 girls showed up every night, which head coach George Ibarra hadn’t seen before.

“They want to play,” he said. “They realized that it’s short, and it could be taken away from us.”

Senior Caroline McLaughlin said the team has a lot of spirit and positive energy after a shortened season last year.

“We’re coming back from COVID, so we’re all excited to have fans, again,” she said, “and be together more than we did last season.”

There are some returners in senior Sam Campbell and junior Belize Berry and plenty of new faces, as well, including some who have never played or haven’t played in years.

The group got to play with each other for the first time Saturday in a scrimmage against the Hayden Valley High School girls varsity team. The scrimmage went well, with both teams showing off their skills and working together for the first time since last year.

“The whole purpose of this was to get them in an uncomfortable spot and see what we need to work on as a team to get ready,” Ibarra said. “We saw a lot of good things. We saw a lot of things we need to work on. Rebounding is going to be a big thing for us.”

Thankfully, the Sailors girls have more height than they’ve had in years, but Ibarra said they aren’t utilizing it the way they should be.

Steamboat Springs High School graduate Erica Simmons and senior Sam Campbell crowd Coal Ridge senior Clara Carranza at the home opener in Kelly Meek Gym in early 2021.

Campbell and McLaughlin are both tall seniors who will not only bring length to the team but valuable experience and leadership, which will help the girls who have never played, like senior Caroline Henninger.

“We have a lot of height this year,” Campbell said. “But we also have some girls that are really fast and really athletic. We have our team chemistry; our technical chemistry on the court is going to be a huge advantage when we get it all figured out as a team.

Berry showed off her speed, athleticism and shooting skills in the scrimmage. The Sailors also had to work hard on defense to put a stop to a quick and spunky Hayden squad.

Henninger said the scrimmage was useful because the Sailors weren’t playing against themselves or facing the junior varsity team. They were able to experience working together as a team, rather than against each other.

“I saw some great ball movement. I saw some communication among the girls. I’m not having to remind them they’re on the court. They’re communicating, they’re telling each other back sides’ ‘open’ or ‘set a screen for me and ‘I’ll roll’ and ‘I’ll get you the pass,’” Ibarra said. “I saw a lot of positive communication, which we have lacked throughout the years. This year, they seem to really communicate.”

Good communication probably stems from the family atmosphere the team fosters.

“We’re all really good friends on this team, and it’s super fun,” Henninger said.

Steamboat Springs Girls Basketball Schedule

Nov. 30 - vs. Moffat County, L 54-16

Dec. 4 - Roaring Fork Tournament, L 59-21

Dec. 9-11 - Steamboat Shootout, W 48-36, L 53-25, L 60-18

Dec. 17-18 - Gunnison Tournament, L 53-30, L 46-33

Jan. 6 - at Coal Ridge, L 53-27

Jan. 14 - vs. Palisade, W 43-34

Jan. 15 - vs. Rifle, W 35-31

Jan. 20 - at Battle Mountain, W 39-37

Jan. 22 - at Glenwood Springs, 12:30 p.m.

Jan. 25 - at Eagle Valley, 5:30 p.m.

Jan. 28 - at Summit, 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 2 - vs. Summit, 6 p.m.

Feb. 4 - at Rifle, 6 p.m.

Feb. 5 - at Palisade, 12:30 p.m.

Feb. 8 - vs. Battle Mountain, 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 12 - vs. Glenwood Springs, 12:30 p.m.

Feb. 17 - vs. Eagle Valley, 5:30 p.m.

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