Rams, Tigers to clash in league contest | SteamboatToday.com

Rams, Tigers to clash in league contest

Joel Reichenberger

The Soroco boys basketball team enters tonight’s game at Hayden with a perfect record, two wins better than the Tigers’ 3-2 mark.

In a contest that will pit an experienced and fast-break-minded Soroco squad against a tall, skilled and improving Hayden team, both sides are expecting a hard-fought game.

“It will be a battle,” Hayden coach Mike Luppes said. “We’re expecting a dog fight. It will be a really balanced game between the two teams.”

The Rams enter the game having faced few real challenges. They have swept past the three varsity teams they have played, winning the games by an average of 22 points.

The team’s strength has proven to be its experienced guards, including senior Ryan Tibbetts, who has averaged 20 points a game, and junior Cody Miles, who has averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds a contest.

“We’ve gotten good play from all of our guard positions,” Soroco coach Sam McLeod said. “We are going to continue to play our game and keep it high tempo.”

That style flies directly in the face of what Hayden would rather do.

“They’ll probably try to slow it down and we will both try to impose what kind of game we want to play,” McLeod said. “We need to get a little tougher inside against Hayden. We have some size, but we’re not doing as well as we need to with interior scoring and defense.”

That’s a weakness the Tigers may be able to exploit.

Hayden relied early this season on the strong presence of senior forward Zach Barnes, who has been one of the team’s top scorers in each of its five games and was named to the all-tournament team of last week’s Cowboy Shootout in Meeker.

The team placed third in that tournament and would like to continue that progress by turning often to Barnes in the paint.

Hayden also has benefited greatly from the emergence of point guard Graig Medvesk, a sophomore who exploded at the Meeker tournament and joined Barnes in receiving all-tournament honors.

He has averaged better than 20 points through the three-game stretch and gives the Tigers a potent scoring threat alongside Barnes.

He also could be a huge help if Hayden gets pushed into Soroco’s fast-paced style.

“We have the potential to be an excellent transition team,” Luppes said. “Obviously we will try to keep them from running, so the biggest thing for us will be to control the boards and have people back to slow them down.”

The game marks the first league play for either squad. It may be Soroco’s best win and a validation of its early season victories.

“We’ve passed some early tests, but it doesn’t mean much until you get into league play,” McLeod said. “We will see where we stand when we play Hayden.”

A win for the Tigers, meanwhile, would continue the progress it showed at Meeker.

“Our kids are always excited for Soroco,” Luppes said. “We feel like we’ve played well, and we feel like there’s no one in our league we can’t play with.

“We will have to hope our guys get it going. Their guys will be ready. That’s for sure.”

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