Sailors on high

Steamboat plays Montrose fresh off two road wins

In retrospect, the Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team probably didn't need to beat Rifle and Glenwood Springs on the road to make the 2006 4A Men's State Tournament.

But the Sailors weren't about to take that chance.

Steamboat (11-11) handily beat both schools to end the regular season on a high note, earning a No. 10 seed and a matchup against Montrose (13-9) at 7:30 p.m. today in Eagle-Vail.

Battle Mountain, the No. 2 seed in the Bill Weimar bracket of the state tournament, is the host school for the first two rounds. If Steamboat defeats Montrose, it will play Western Slope League champion Battle Mountain (20-2) at 2 p.m. Saturday in Eagle-Vail.

"We really feel good about what we are doing right now," Sailors coach Kelly Meek said. "We played Montrose in the semifinals in our tournament. We hit all those shots to come back and win by three."

Meek explained the Indians' strategy: "They've changed their defense up from when we saw them last. They feature a great player, and they are very quick off the perimeter. When we caught them the first time, they had just come out of the football playoffs."

The Sailors are on Blues Break this week -- weeklong mid-winter break from school -- but continued to practice. They would like to pick up tonight where they left off Saturday in Glenwood.

"By far, for our kids, it was the best we've executed possession after possession all season," Meek said.

Steamboat jumped on Glen--wood, 12-0, after the first quarter Saturday and held a 21-10 lead at halftime. The Demons never got closer than 10 points the rest of the game.

"Our kids were well-balanced," Meek said. "The seven we played all scored. We took the Flohr kid totally out of the game. We stuck Aaron (Calkins) on him, and he never subbed out. Aaron drove him nuts, and his teammates helped him whenever he got stuck on a screen or double stagger. We executed our defensive game plan very well."

The Sailors controlled the boards despite playing injured. Junior Tanner Stillwell did not play after reaggravating a knee injury Feb. 17, and his status for this weekend is unknown, Meek said. Senior Scott Peterson, who has played hurt most of the season, isn't practicing so he can save his knee for games.

"Scotty knows our system so well, anyway," Meek said. "He is doing a super job playing within what he has."

Senior Mitch Bryden led the Sailors with 15 points Saturday. Calkins scored 11, and sophomore Michael Vandahl and Peterson each scored 10. Senior Dillon Jenkins had six assists. Peterson pulled down a team-high eight rebounds, and Bryden chipped in with seven. Sophomore Colby Kostur came off the bench and pulled down four rebounds.

Vandahl, Calkins and Jenkins had four rebounds apiece.

Montezuma-Cortez, tradi--tionally a strong basketball team, will play Summit at 8 p.m. today in the other first-round game in Eagle-Vail. The winner faces Evergreen at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

D'Evelyn, the team that eliminated Steamboat from the playoffs last season, is the top seed in the Bill Weimar bracket.

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