Moffat County boys hoops sees tight game in Steamboat |

Moffat County boys hoops sees tight game in Steamboat

Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today
Moffat County's Landen Najera fouls Steamboat Senior Connor Hansen during a game at Steamboat Springs High School on Tuesday, December 17.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team trailed for most of its game against Moffat County. With over six minutes left to play, a 3-pointer from junior Jake Kreissig gave the Sailors a 46-43 lead, their first advantage of the night.

The Sailors clung on to their small lead, eventually winning 58-55 on Tuesday, Dec. 17.

“A win’s a win. I think they’re very improved from what they’ve been,” Steamboat head coach Michael Vandahl said. “I know (Moffat County head coach) Steve (Maneotis) very well, and he’s doing a good job. It was good for us. I’m happy they came out and punched us in the mouth, physically. We had to go right back at them.”

With 3:49 left, Steamboat led 50-49. When Kreissig fouled Bulldogs sophomore Myles Simpson at the three-point line, Simpson had a chance to give put his team in front again. His first two shots clanged off the front of the rim. His third went in, tying the contest at 50. 

A floater from Steamboat senior Ethan Pyles and another basket from Kreissig recovered the Sailors lead, which remained in tact from then on out.

Kreissig finished the night with 19 points and five 3-pointers and said it was his best performance this season.

“It’s my first game I’m able to start coming off a suspension, so it was pretty exciting,” he said. “I think we played pretty good as a team, but there’s a lot better (play) to come.”

Steamboat junior Granger Rowan was another huge factor in the victory. Rowan rebounded and picked off the Bulldogs in key moments. A tipped and stolen inbounds pass set up a put-back from junior Eric Pollert to slightly stretch the Sailor lead with five minutes to play. Pollert netted a game-high 21 points.

“Granger hadn’t been playing with confidence, so we played him down at (junior varsity) today and I think he kind of sparked up,” Vandahl said. “That’s what we’ve been waiting for. … I was really impressed with Kellen Adams. We’re looking at putting him at the point a little more, as a sophomore. He did what he needed to do out there.”

Attendees of the game were met with a note: “This year we are holding a ‘Silent Night’ game. To participate, please hold all of your cheers and applause until the Sailors score eight points.”

It may have jinxed the Sailors (3-5) a bit. After one quarter of play, Moffat County (2-6) led 12-7. The gym was quiet.

Finally, at the six minute, 55 second mark of the second stanza, Pollert scored with a layup. The Sailors faithful cheered as the basket brought the score to 16-9.

Landen Najera led the Bulldogs in every way. He was matched up with Pollert at the post and for the first half of the game, limited the Sailors 6-foot-7 sophomore.

He contributed a team-high 18 points, 10 of which came in the opening frame.

Simpson followed with 14 points, aided by a trio of 3-pointers. 

“Landen Najera had an outstanding game,” Maneotis said. “He was inside and outside, then Miles from the outside. … I thought it was a great team effort.”

Maneotis said turnovers were one of the reasons for the loss, but he can’t fault his young team for falling short.

“That’s the first real tight game we’ve had all year,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s a real turning point, but trying to do a better job in the post and shutting down their big man. … The bottom line is I’m proud of everybody’s effort.”

MCHS boys varsity will host its first home game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday against Rifle.

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