By ELWOOD K. SHELTON
Daily Press writer
Coach Blaine Corlett knows that on Friday his team's statistics won't change dramatically.
The state's leading three-point shooter, junior Pablo Loya, won't increase his lead on Class 4A shooters.
That state-ranked scorer, senior Kyle Hazelwood, will have to wait another week to pour in the points.
Corlett knows the Bulldogs won't be going out to break any scoring records, because in the last two meetings of the Steamboat Springs Sailors and the Bulldogs, the games have been decided by 10 points or less.
Neither team has broken 60 points when playing each other.
"It's always a mid-range game, as far as scoring goes," he said. "Both teams go at each other hard and grit it out."
Friday night's potential game of grit will be the Bulldogs' conference opener, and will be played on hostile hardwood in the Steamboat Springs gym.
Because of the two teams focusing on defense each time they meet, the game has become one of possession. Who has the ball, and who can capitalize when they have it are the two driving questions both teams have to answer.
The Bulldogs (5-2) answer to the questions comes in the form of an offense that has nearly all of its player avenging more than 40 percent from the field and also two state-ranked scorers.
Hazelwood is in the top 10 in scoring for Class 4A, tallying 120 points over the six games the Bulldogs have played.
He is joined by standout three-point shooter, Loya, who is ranked No. 1 in Class 4A.
The two account for 220 of the Bulldogs total 434 points on the season.
The foils to the Bulldogs scorers are an inside-outside combination of Sailors.
Senior point guard Jeff Aragon is the leading scorer for the Sailors (5-2). Aragon is the only remaining player from last year's conference championship team.
On the inside, the team will look to one of their two 6-foot-2 forwards in Ryan Sc heer and Alex Mackie.
Although the Sailors do have some height under the net they don't have the size they had last season.
The Sailors had Andrew Johnston and Russ Eck in the middle last season, with Johnson being the team's leading scorer and Eck being a 6-foot-7 center.
"I really don't see size being that important when these two teams play," Corlett said. "We were able to handle their size when they had Eck, so I believe we can handle their size now."
More so than the players, many of the Bulldogs anticipate a different factor equating into their trip to Steamboat the crowd.
The crowd which is usually bordering on capacity when the teams meet, adds a factor that can help the Sailors momentum-wise.
"It gets crazy because the crowd gets so into it. They're loud after every basket," Loya said. "It's the same way when they come here, so it's just something we'll have to work through."
Corlett, on the other hand, sees the trip to a hostile court as a good proving ground for his team as they enter conference-play.
"You wish every game was like the Steamboat Moffat game," Corlett said. "There's a lot of emotion, a lot of noise and a lot of fans there. It's a great environment in which to play basketball."