Steamboat Springs Sailors stifle Battle Mountain Huskies, 44-27
EDWARDS — In a familiar story, Steamboat Springs boys basketball jumped out to an early lead and had Battle Mountain running in quicksand for the rest of the evening.
The Sailors jumped out to a 15-4 lead after the first quarter on Tuesday, Jan. 9, and stymied the Huskies the rest of the way en route to a 44-27 win in Edwards.
Yes, the first half started about as poorly as it could for the Huskies, but this is Steamboat’s M.O. The Sailors (6-5 overall and 1-1 in the Slope) get a lead, play good defense and work the clock methodically, taking their opponents out of their game.
“It was real nice. We just played in a tournament down on the Front Range and played the No. 2 team in the state (Silver Creek) and went toe-to-toe with them. I think we ready for league play,” Sailors coach Mike VanDahl said. “Our mentality is defense first. Offense can come and go. Our goal is always to hold a team to 35 points, and we did that tonight.”
The Huskies’ Liam McKenny scored an early bucket for the Huskies, and then Battle Mountain went stone cold. Steamboat ran off 12 straight points including 3s from Aden Knaus and Mac Riniker. Tyler Doyne finished the first with a shot from beyond the arc to give his team a 15-4 lead after one.
The Huskies appeared to start to put it into gear during the second quarter with an alley-oop from Liam Hanagan to Devin Huffman. Battle Mountain (6-4, 2-1) pulled to within 21-16 at the half, prompting hope for a comeback.
Knaus started the second half with a layup, Doyne hit a jumper and Riniker had a put-back and Steamboat was back to a 27-19 lead. Knaus added a 3 to move the advantage to double-digits, where it would stay for the rest of the game.
“We just didn’t shoot the ball well,” Huskies coach Phil Tronsrue said. “Defensively, we set a goal of holding teams to 10 points per quarter. We allowed 11. We did what we wanted to do on the defensive end. I’m not displeased with 85-90 percent of our shots. We just didn’t make baskets.”
Riniker led the Sailors with 20 points because a Riniker must always lead the Sailors in scoring. (A reminder that this is Mac, a junior, while Ethan is at college.)
Huskies girls roll
Claire Krueger’s been here before.
A junior and veteran of Battle Mountain girls basketball, she’s seen pretty much everything there is to see with the Huskies.
It’s different this year, she says.
“I think it’s definitely different,” Krueger said. “We’ve got a new coach, a new program. I feel like we have a different mentality collectively. We all like to get together collectively before and after the game. We feel that connection with each other.”
One hint comes on Friday when the Huskies host Glenwood Springs. Battle Mountain will go into that matchup with a 5-4 overall record and a 2-0 Western Slope mark after a 55-19 win over Steamboat on Tuesday.
As expected, the Huskies rolled past the Sailors, jumping out to 15-5 first-quarter lead. Battle Mountain’s Krueger and Stephany Hernandez both had 3-point plays to start it. After a hard non-shooting foul, Krueger sank a baseline jumper. Hernandez had the next four and Gabriela Caballero jarred a 3.
Audrey Teague and Bella Rubis added 3 in the second quarter as the Huskies went into the intermission ahead, 29-10.
“We’re very pleased with that,” first-year coach Kindi Backstrom said. “It’s good to have a good core or leaders. We’re pretty solid, and we have great underclassmen coming up. We’re excited for the future.”
Caballero led the Huskies with 18, while Hernandez had 13 for Battle Mountain.
Battle Mountain hosts Glenwood Springs on Friday, Jan. 12, while Steamboat’s girls are home for Grand Junction and the Sailors’ boys host Fruita Monument.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.