STEAMBOAT SPRINGS - The only certainty in the Western Slope League is the uncertainty of the standings.
There might be leaders in the boys league, but the season-ending district tournament will be as unpredictable as it gets.
Take the Steamboat Springs High School's 39-35 win against Summit on Friday. Summit, which sits at the bottom of the conference, and Steamboat, which is muddled in the middle, waged a battle of attrition in Kelly Meek Gymnasium. Neither side played pretty, and the action often was ugly in a game that begged for a shot clock.
"If (league leaders) Delta, Palisade and Eagle Valley don't think Rifle, Steamboat and Summit aren't going to be someone to think about, they are crazy," Tigers coach Phil Tronsrue said. "We're just on the cusp. That's my feeling and I think that's (Steamboat Springs coach) Luke (DeWolfe's)."
Said DeWolfe: "It's who is playing best at end of season. It's up for grabs. It's more open than I think I've ever seen."
Of course, as the league season reaches the home stretch, the remaining games will determine seeding for the district tournament, making Friday's game crucial.
The two teams traded blows and missed opportunities throughout much of the night. Steamboat held its biggest lead at 12-7 after the first quarter.
The difference came early in the fourth quarter. Summit's Max Ortiz hit the Tigers' first three of the game with 7 minutes, 34 seconds remaining to tie the score at 25.
It was the first time the two teams had been tied since late in the second quarter.
But Steamboat's Carter Kounovsky came right back and hit a 3-pointer to give Steamboat a lead it would never give up.
"That makes winners," Tronsrue said about Kounovsky's shot. "He said to himself 'You hit that and I can, too. I'm going to give us the lead.' I'm assuming that's his mentality."
The Sailors hit 9 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Summit had its opportunities however. Steamboat 6-foot-9 forward Garrett Bye struggled all night with foul trouble and sat out large portions of the second and third quarters. The last time the two teams met, Bye had 14 points and 15 rebounds. In his absence, however, Steamboat's Ben Custer came up big, grabbing 15 rebounds.
Kounovsky led the Sailors with 11 points. Noah Glasco had nine for the Tigers.
Summit drops to 3-13 overall and 3-9 in league play. Steamboat is 8-6 and 4-5.
The Tigers next take on non-conference Buena Vista on the road Tuesday before heading into a must-win game against Rifle at home Friday.
The Steamboat Springs girls' basketball team beat Summit on Friday, 63-23.
Steamboat (7-7 overall, 3-6 in league play) jumped out to a 22-6 first-quarter lead and led 40-12 at the break.
"This has been our year, where it's up, down and all around," Steamboat coach John Ameen said. "We got good-quality shots and we hit them."
Steamboat was led by Alice Holmquist's 15 points, including four 3-pointers. Steamboat hit 10 3-pointers overall and had 12 players score. Nikki Fry chipped in 12 points, including eight in the opening quarter.
Meg Heil led the Tigers with seven points.
The Lady Tigers travel with the boys' team to Buena Vista Tuesday and take on Rifle at home Friday.