EDWARDS - If Steamboat Springs boys basketball coach Luke DeWolfe shows up at the district tournament at Colorado Mesa completely bald, this is why.
Just one night after falling to Eagle Valley, 41-40, in a heartbreaker, the Sailors broke some hearts Saturday, escaping from Edwards with a 42-41 win at Battle Mountain.
"I definitely may have a few more gray hairs," DeWolfe said. "It's always tough to come back. It's one of those things. I think kids are little more resilient than coaches are."
In an eerie flashback to Friday night's loss to the Devils, the Sailors led 30-20 the Huskies with 1:25 left in the third quarter Saturday, only to see Battle Mountain scrap back to tie it at 41 with 56 seconds left in regulation. With 22 ticks left, the Sailors' Garrett Bye sunk 1-of-2 free throws to provide the winning margin which held when Battle Mountain's Jerry Carrazco's and Alex Banegas' last shots missed the mark at the buzzer.
While officiating played a big role, affecting both sides, the deciding factor was free-throw shooting. Battle Mountain was 5-for 14 from the charity stripe in the second half, while Steamboat was 13-for-17.
"They're giving a lot of effort, but they're making mistakes at the end of the game," Huskies coach Tom Padilla said. "We have to take care of the basketball. We're five points from being 6-1 in this league. That comes from free throws. Besides the turnovers, it's free throws."
Those would be one-point losses to Palisade and the Sailors as well as a 52-49 defeat at Glenwood Springs, and Battle Mountain is 3-4 in the Slope and 7-5 overall.
The star on the line for Steamboat (3-4, 7-5) was junior Carter Kounovsky, who was a cool 11-for-12 from the line in the fourth quarter. He also had a game-high 14 points.
"I missed a couple in the last couple games," Kounovsky said. "I have a list. I'm just trying to let it come."
Cool heads were needed in the second half. DeWolfe felt that two blocking fouls should have been charges going the other way. Meanwhile, Battle Mountain's Joe LyBarger had three buckets in row, followed by a Cody Brown 3 to close the Sailors' lead to 30-29.
The next key moment came with 3:10 left when LyBarger was fouled after a 3-point attempt, according to the officials. Thinking that he was going to the line for three attempts, LyBarger apparently celebrated a little to much and was whistled for a technical foul. Padilla felt the foul came during LyBarger's shot and that the Huskies were entitled to three shots. The coach also got whistled for a technical.
After everything was settled, LyBarger missed both his freebies, while Kounovsky was 3-for-4, giving the Sailors a 37-31 lead.
The Huskies kept battling and Carrazco nailed a 3 with 56 seconds left to tie it at 41.
Sailors cruise in opener
Saturday's girls lidlifter was a lot more simple.
Just let McKenzie Repollo shoot the ball. The senior knocked down seven 3s and the Sailors cruised for a 53-18 win.
"We played a complete four quarters," said Sailors coach John Ameen, whose team moved to 2-5 and 5-7. "We shot the ball incredibly well today. When shots go in, it makes everything easier."
"As the game went on, it just kept flowing," Repollo said. "I practice shooting all the time. I shoot at least 100 3s everyday probably. It feels just great to do it in a game."
Both sets of teams are on the road Saturday. Steamboat Springs heads to Glenwood, while the Huskies are at Delta.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.