Boys b-ball team tries to rebound

— League standings in the Western Slope can change as fast as the weather.

A week ago, Steamboat was riding high with an undefeated league record and a win over Rifle the most physically threatening team in the league. But after last weekend's surprisingly close loss to the previously winless Palisade Bulldogs, coupled with a 17-point loss to Delta, league standings are a bit more muddled.

And that makes tonight's game against cross-valley rival Moffat County even more important.

After beating Palisade by 30 points the night after Palisade's upset over Steamboat, Moffat County will be looking to redeem its 67-58 loss to Steamboat and a chance to move up in league standings.

"In terms of injury and health, we had a real slam to the squad. Moffat County is going to be a real challenge," Sailors coach Kelly Meek said.

During last week's practices, six of the Sailors' top nine players were bothered by illnesses or injuries. The guard position seemed to be the most precarious as John Daschle missed three days of school with an infection, Cody Sherrill received little playing time because of an injury to the thigh and point guard Jeff Aragon was bothered by ankle injuries.

Despite a strong performance from post Alex Mackey, foul trouble in the Palisade and Delta game also left the Sailors short-manned. After scoring

13 points in the third quarter, Mackey fouled out of the Bulldogs' game and then fouled out again in the Delta game just a minute into the second half.

In both games, the Sailors held the lead heading into halftime but then watched those leads slip away by the end of the fourth quarter.

"We really have to work on composure and late-game situations," Meek said.

But the Sailors also have to worry about some talented Bulldogs athletes. The biggest threat is point guard Kyle Hazelwood, a senior who averages 17 points per game.

While Aragon contained Hazelwood in the Jan. 11 matchup, Meek said if Aragon doesn't play, the Sailors might have trouble stopping the 5-foot-11 guard.

The Sailors will also have to worry about the 3-point sharp shooter Pablo Loya, who

averages 14 points per game. Loya has made 40 treys so far this season.

"Those two guys we have to shut down on the perimeter," Meek said.

A team that rarely lets an opponent get past 50 points, Steamboat is once again concentrated on defense, hoping to execute its press and attack Moffat County's half-court trap.

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