‘We’re definitely going all the way’: Sailors eye playoffs after 51-36 win over Eagle Valley
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Winning looks easy for the Sailors.
On Tuesday night, the Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team defeated Eagle Valley, 51-36. They are now 12-0 overall and 10-0 against Western Slope opponents.
“Practices, they make it so we can win a lot and by big margins,” said senior Granger Rowan. “Playing the game and winning is easy, but what goes behind it isn’t so easy.”
Head coach Michael Vandahl has high expectations for his team and makes that very clear during their difficult practices. That work results in smooth offense, gritty defense and effortless chemistry between every player.
Tuesday’s win was pretty easy. The Devils kept it close in the opening minutes, but the Sailors soon pulled away to take a 32-24 lead at the half.
Senior Eric Pollert scored 20 points, while senior Jake Kreissig added 15.
The Sailors have two more games in the regular season before entering the sudden-death playoff bracket. If they lose, they’re done. So would it be better to lose now?
“No. Absolutely not,” said Kreissig. “Why would we lose?”
The Sailors nearly lost Monday. The Sailors were down 18-6 to Coal Ridge after the first quarter, but used a nine-point run in the final minutes to seal the 54-51 win at home on Monday night.
With three minutes left in the game, Steamboat trailed 51-45. A 3-pointer from Rowan cut the gap to 51-48 and a deep two-pointer from Kreissig made it 51-50.
With a minute left, Pollert gave the Sailors a 52-51 advantage. Kreissig thought he got a defensive rebound to give his team the ball, but a foul on the floor gave Coal Ridge the ball back with 34.4 seconds left. The Steamboat defense was relentless, though, forcing Coal Ridge to make a bad pass that went out of bounds. Sailors got the ball with 24.8 seconds left.
A foul sent Pollert to the line, where he sunk one free throw. A foul shot by sophomore Cade Gedeon concluded the scoring.
“It was a good game for us. They play a different style of basketball, they pressed a lot,” said Vandahl. “I was happy we had to play from behind. We’ve had the lead a lot. We had to come back and grind it out. It was good playoff experience.”
Kreissig said the game was a little bit of a wake-up call, and the team is better for it. After assessing Coal Ridge, Steamboat played from behind for the first time this year.
“Coal Ridge was an important game,” he said. “It definitely opened our eyes.”
“It’s good that we came back,” Rowan added. “We could have easily fallen apart.”
The Sailors won both of those games without senior scoring threat Jackson Metzler. Taking over his minutes was junior Parker Lindquist. Lindquist took advantage of his time on the floor, scoring 8 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
“He had a tough game yesterday, but he came back,” Rowan said. “He’s a great shooter.”
At this point in the season, proving the depth and lack of reliance on individuals is more important than ever. And the Sailors’ confidence is higher than ever.
“We’re definitely going all the way,” Kreissig said. “No doubt.”
Tuesday, March 2
Steamboat Springs 56, Eagle Valley 40
SS 18 14 14 10 – 56
EV 9 15 7 9 – 40
Scoring: EV, Nikko Von Stralendorff 12. SS, Eric Pollert 20, Jake Kreissig 15, Parker Lindquist 8, Cade Gedeon 5, Granger Rowan 4, Kellen Adams 2, Carter Reistad 2.
Monday, March 1
Steamboat Springs 54, Coal Ridge 51
CR 18 8 15 10 – 51
SS 6 19 12 17 – 54
Scoring: CR, Andrew Herrera 17, Karsen DuBois 10. SS, Cade Gedeon 14, Eric Pollert 14, Granger Rowan 12, Jakob Kreissig 6, Carter Reistad 6, Parker Lindquist 2.
Shelby Reardon is the assistant editor at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach her, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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