Soroco beats Meeker in last-second thriller; earns second place finish in league |

Soroco beats Meeker in last-second thriller; earns second place finish in league

Soroco senior Morgan George drives toward the basket in the first half of Friday's game against Meeker. The Cowboys took a 34-30 lead in the first half, but the Rams pulled it out in the end, securing a second-place finish in league play.

Friday's girls basketball showdown between the Soroco High School Rams and the Meeker Cowboys wasn't a playoff game, but it might as well have been.

"Meeker is a quality team, and we knew that we would have a lot of people here and that it would be a good ball game," coach David Bruner said. "I was hoping that we would play a little better. We didn't play as well as I thought we could, but sometimes, that happens when you are young."

After digging a big hole in the first quarter, the Rams trailed the Cowboys 23-13, but the Soroco players never panicked. By the close of the first half, the Rams had cut the Cowboys’ lead to four points, 34-30, and two big Soroco three pointers to open the third quarter gave the home team the lead.

"We didn't panic, really,” Dakota Bruner said." We came back fighting, and we just took it score by score. There really wasn't anything else to it."

Bruner finished the game with 18 points, getting a helping hand from teammate Chloe Veilleux, who added 14, including a pair of free throws that put the game away with less than 10 seconds to play

"Dakota has been playing a long time, and she pretty much willed us to win the game," the coach said. "She's a great leader, and she went out there and did her job."

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But even with Bruner pulling the train in the second and third quarters, the Rams couldn't seem to put the game away.

The Rams had Bruner, but the Cowboys had Reese Pertile.

Pertile was a force under the basket, scoring 12 points in the first quarter and finishing the night with 25. Teammate Megan Shelton added 13 more to the Meeker total, setting up a thrilling finish.

With less than 10 seconds left in the game, Soroco's Veilleux was fouled and headed to the free throw line. David Bruner said he knew that his top player would hit the shots to secure the win, but it wasn't that clear to basketball fans in the gym.

"It's just a free throw, and I knew that I could put it in," Veilleux said. “I definitely thought about what was on the line. But I had to forget about it, because if I think about it too much, I might miss the free throws.

She didn't, and the Rams will host Wednesday's district playoff game. Chances are, they will open the tournament against Routt County rival, Hayden.

Friday night's victory secured Soroco a second-place finish behind regional powerhouse Paonia, as the Rams finished with a 10-1 record in league play and a 17-2 record overall.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966