Devils take down Sailors in OT
GYPSUM – So, think everyone involved in basketball on the Western Slope will be on their computers at midnight Sunday evening/Monday morning?
“Absolutely not,” Eagle Valley boys basketball coach Jim Bair said. “I can’t control it. If I found out at on Monday at 6 a.m. or at 10 a.m. before practice, I’m not losing any sleep over it.”
OK, the Bair family will be getting some sleep, but maybe not many others. That’s when maxpreps.com spits out the rankings for seed Nos. 1-11 for the Western Slope district tournament – the eight league teams, plus Durango, Montrose and Montezuma-Cortez.
And the Eagle Valley and Steamboat boys basketball teams went to overtime Saturday to plead their case to the computer with the Devils eking out a 43-40 win.
“I felt pretty good going into overtime,” Bair said. “We were in a good position with lots of timeouts in the bank and we were not in foul trouble. We had to be almost perfect in our defense and we had to make each possession count.”
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Knotted at 37 after 32 minutes, Steamboat’s Zach Dunklin hit a 3 to start the overtime period. Eagle Valley came back with a jumper from Travis Edgar and two free throws from Juan Baca for a 41-40 lead.
The Devils should have put it away with their chances at the free-throw line, but were only 2-for-6 from there as the seconds ticked down. The Sailors’ Carter Kounovsky threw up a 3 as time expired.
While one could have forgiven Steamboat and its fans for pulling their hair out – the Sailors lost Friday night on a tip-in at the buzzer to Battle Mountain – coach Luke DeWolfe was philosophical.
“We’re competing well,” he said. “We had opportunities to win games against good teams. We’re a young team without much experience. All you can ask is for the guys to get better as the season goes on. In these types of games, you have to get the breaks. We beat Palisade and Delta last weekend in close games. The breaks didn’t go our way this weekend.”
After Maxpreps.com crunches the numbers, bringing in Durango, Montrose and Cortez, the top-five teams in the Slope region get a bye to the round of eight, starting Thursday at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction with the top-seven teams advancing to the state playoffs.
Meanwhile, seed Nos. 6-11 get paired off for play-in games. DeWolfe expects his Sailors (10-9 overall and 6-8 in the 4A Slope) to host a pigtail game Tuesday. After the appropriate sleeping, Bair expects the Devils (14-5, 10-4) to get a bye.
Lady Sailors cruise
Steamboat Springs girls basketball will enter this week’s district tournament on a bit of a roll after a 52-30 win Saturday in Gypsum. It was the Sailors’ third win in four games and pulled them over .500 for the regular season (10-9) and to 6-8 in the 4A Slope.
“We’re playing well together right now,” Sailors coach John Ameen said. “It’s good to come together this time of year. We just want to continue to be excited about playing with each other.”
A 15-1 run during the second quarter by the guests broke this one open. Steamboat’s Alex Feeley and Alice Holmquist hit back-to-back 3s to expand their team’s lead to 25-12 with 5:21 left in the half. The Sailors’ Nikki Fry hit four-straight free-throws, which was critical in a whistle-filled affair – Steamboat was already in the bonus in the first quarter, while both teams were in the double midway through the second quarter.
Before the run was over, McKenzie Repollo hit from downtown and Mikaila Jegtvig had a layup. The Sailors went into the break with a 35-18 lead. Eagle Valley (11-8, 8-6) got no closer than 12 points in the second half.
“Well, we have a lot of basketball to play,” Devils coach Sam Bartlett said. “Every team has its peaks and valleys, and we’re just having a bad time to be in a valley now.”
Fry led the Sailors with 20 points and Madeline Lounsberry had eight for Eagle Valley.
Ameen said he’s “95 percent sure” that the Sailors will be in a pigtail game early this week. The Devils, who finished in a tie for third in league play with Glenwood Springs, will await their seed number from the Maxpreps.com computer, though Bartlett said Saturday that his squad will likely be at home Tuesday for a play-in game.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.