Soroco boys basketball hopes to be the postseason Cinderella story
February 13, 2019
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include the correct spelling of Liam Yaconiello’s last name.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Everybody loves a good Cinderella story during basketball season, and the Soroco boys have proven they could be next to wear the glass slippers.
In basketball, a perfect Cinderella story is when a team that no one expects to do well goes further than expected in the postseason. It’s a term dubbed by the annual NCAA March Madness tournament, adding the “Madness” element to every bracket.
Noticeable improvements led to bigger crowds and better records. The Rams, which have gone 4-16 for two straight seasons, stand at 10-7 overall, including a 7-4 Class 2A Western Slope League record. Next Tuesday, they will host the first district playoff game for the first time in three years.
If the Rams win their first district round game, they will earn a regional tournament berth, but if they lose, they’ll have to win two games make their way back in contention as a fifth seed.
“Our whole goal was to make the regional tournament this year,” Rams head coach Leif Carlson said. “We're one win away from that on Tuesday night. We knew it would be a lot of work, but the second half of the season we started to see that goal materialize.”
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Carlson, a new head coach for the Rams, has emphasized a stronger transition defense and a multi-dimensional offense. The Rams have turned to senior post Grant Redmond in the past to score all the points, but shooting drills have strengthened their perimeter shooting this season, adding offensive weapons in sophomore Liam Yaconiello, junior Jesse Koler and senior Truman Anarella.
Anarella and Yiaconello have both made 26 3-pointers this season. Koler has 15 and freshman Jed Kirby has added 11.
“This year we focused a ton of energy on our perimeter shooting just to add another dimension to our offense,” Carlson said. “It just started clicking. It takes thousands of thousands of reps to get to be a consistent 3-point shooter, and we've got several boys who have hit that stride.”
When the wins pile up, a home crowd comes out to watch. The Rams boast a 6-1 record at home this season, but have struggled more playing on the road, where they have a 4-6 record.
“I love it, we're having so much fun,” Anarella said. “The home games are so much different. It's so much fun to have these years pay off and show something to the community. These past few years haven't been that great. Now we can provide some fun like the girls can.”
The focus moving forward is getting better on transition defense. The Rams are allowing too many easy points in the paint. When the Rams take the road, they’ll also have to focus on keeping the intensity up when playing in enemy territory.
“The other day, coach told us how to be a Cinderella story in the postseason,” Anarella said. “And that just comes with intensity, and we all buy in, and it's doing wonders for us so far.”