CARBONDALE, Colorado - Down two starters who were busy preparing for today's Class 3A state football title game, Steamboat Springs' boys basketball team played a little Ironman hoops in Friday's Brenda Patch Tournament opener.
Charles Wood scored a game-high 28 points and went 5-of-6 at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter to lift the shorthanded Sailors to a 60-52 win over tourney host Roaring Fork.
"We're proud of these guys," said Steamboat coach Luke DeWolfe, who had just eight players suited up.
Roaring Fork coach Larry Williams had plenty to be proud of as well. His Class 3A Rams hung tight with a perennially tough 4A basketball school.
"I liked their effort, first of all," Williams lauded. "And their poise. Steamboat was pressing us and they were breaking the press. I love our inside game, and we have some shooters to take some pressure off the inside game if we need to."
Jake Strack-Loertscher and Jake Hawkins flexed their muscle in the frontcourt, helping keep the Rams afloat in a game they trailed 17-9 after one quarter. Hawkins poured in a team-high 17 points, while Strack-Loertscher finished with 13 for the Rams.
In front of a raucous home crowd, Roaring Fork picked up its game in the second quarter, outscoring the Sailors 21-14 to slice the deficit to just one at intermission (31-30). The Rams even went ahead briefly in the latter stages of the second.
"There was a lot of good effort tonight," Williams said. "We're getting there. We're not there, but we're getting there."
Steamboat won the third quarter, 17-9, to pull ahead for good. Roaring Fork cut its deficit to within four points late in the fourth, but the Sailors iced the win by scoring six of the game's final eight points.
Wood and Isiah Forsyth hit two free throws apiece in the final 50 seconds.
With his team shorthanded, Wood knew he'd have to step up.
"I knew that, since I'm one of our leaders, that I'd have to step up and lead the team," the junior said.
Next on the Brenda Patch Tournament's round-robin schedule for Steamboat is a meeting with Basalt at 8:30 a.m. this morning. Then it's off to Aurora to cheer on the football team.
"I'm really happy we'll be able to go down and support them," Wood said. "I'm friends with a lot of the kids on the team."
Roaring Fork will play Rifle today at 2:30 p.m.
Steamboat's girls rebounded from a sluggish first quarter to run away with a 50-32 win over host Roaring Fork in their Brenda Patch Tournament opener on Friday.
The Sailors entered the second quarter in a 6-4 hole, but went on to score 17 of the game's next 25 points to go into halftime with a 21-14 lead.
Steamboat only added to that advantage as the game wore on.
"We opened slow at the beginning of the game," Sailors coach John Ameen said.
"As the game went on, every facet of the game got better for us - our defensive intensity, our offensive patience and execution. As the game went on, we got better and better and better. Then we just slowly pulled away."
Hannah Moore led Steamboat (1-0) with 10 points. Tara Spitellie netted nine points, Emi Birch eight and Matthia Duryea seven.
Roaring Fork senior Alli Zeigel led all scorers with 18 points, hitting a pair of 3-pointers along the way.
Zeigel's not exactly sure what went wrong after the opening quarter.
"I felt like we controlled the game pretty well - the tempo - for the first 12ish minutes," she said. "I think we kind of got tired. I'm not sure what happened."
Next up for the Rams is a 1 p.m. meeting with Rifle this afternoon.
Steamboat has a breakfast-time matchup with Basalt at 8:30 a.m. this morning. The game will be held in Roaring Fork's auxiliary gymnasium.