3 Routt County basketball teams host playoff games this week
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It’s here. Playoff basketball.
At the 2A level, the Hayden and Soroco high school girls basketball teams will compete in the district tournament, with each team hosting a home game on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, the No. 22 Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball game will host a first-round, 4A state tournament game against No. 43 Mitchell.
No. 3 Soroco vs. No. 6 Rangely
Tuesday, Feb. 25, 6 p.m.
The Soroco girls basketball team ended the season with a 57-48 win over Vail Christian on Friday, Feb. 21, securing the third seed in the District 5 tournament. On Tuesday, Feb. 25, the Rams will host No. 6 Rangely in a district quarterfinal contest.
The teams met on Jan. 31, when the Rams picked up a 38-32 road win. In that game, the 13-6 Panthers held the 12-7 Rams to 10 fewer points than their average of 48.
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Soroco has proven it can compete with the best teams in the state. On Feb. 13, the Rams led against Meeker, the No. 3 team at 2A. However, they were narrowly outscored in the second half and fell 58-54 to the Cowboys.
• Players to watch on Rangely: Hannah Wilkie, a senior wearing No. 4. She averages 11 points per game and nearly nine rebounds. Junior Kacie Lapp, donning No. 3, is another consistent scorer for the Panthers, averaging 9 points and rebounds per game.
No. 4 Hayden vs. No. 5 Plateau Valley
Tuesday, Feb. 25, 5 p.m.
The Hayden girls basketball team went 13-6 this year, including 7-4 against conference opponents. That performance earned the Tigers the No. 4 seed in the District 5 tournament and a home quarterfinals game against No. 5 Plateau Valley on Tuesday evening.
When the Tiger traveled to Plateau Valley on Jan. 25, the girls in orange and black handed the Cowboys their first loss since Dec. 20, winning 44-30.
“I think we had 35 turnovers against them and still won by 14, which was pretty incredible,” said Hayden head coach Lori Raper. “I watched the film, and I was like, ‘How did we win that game?'”
Raper said improving on turnovers while maintaining a strong shooting percentage is the game plan.
Hayden won five straight games leading up to a regular-season finale road game at Meeker, the third best team in 2A. Hayden outscored Meeker in the second half but started slow and fell 54-38.
“Obviously, a home-court advantage is a big deal for us. I think if we control the tempo, don’t turnover the ball, we should come out on top, for sure,” Raper said.
• Players to watch on Plateau Valley: Junior Madison Clark averages a little over 12 points per game while wearing No. 1. She also contributes on defense, earning three steals a game. Maddisyn Miller, a freshman in No. 21, puts up similar stats, netting 11.9 points each contest, while adding nine rebounds and three steals.
No. 22 Steamboat Springs vs. No. 43 Mitchell
Wednesday, Feb. 26, 6 p.m.
The Steamboat boys basketball team is 13-10 overall but has lost only three games since Jan. 3. Two of those losses were to the No. 2 team in the state, Glenwood Springs. One of which, the Sailors nearly won.
The Sailors’ effort earned them the No. 22 spot in the 4A RPI standings and a home game against No. 43 Mitchell in the first round of the state tournament. On Wednesday, at 6 p.m., the 11-11 Marauders will come to town.
Head coach Michael Vandahl said his team will rely on their defense, which has only gotten stronger over the course of the year.
“Our defense has been really stout over the last five or six games,” he said. “We’ve been holding teams to below 40 points almost every game. That’s going to be our No. 1 focus. Hopefully our offense is going and if not, it’ll be enough.”
It really just comes down to: it’s playoff basketball,” said Vandahl. “We got to come out and play relaxed and have fun and not make it more than what it is and play to our strengths.”
• Players to watch on Mitchell: Senior Leroy Pruitt, No. 25, is averaging more than 12 points, and leads the team with 8.7 rebounds per game. Dominik Ferris, a senior in No. 11, averages 11.7 points per game. Both he and Pruitt, are strong from three-point range.
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