Soroco High School boys basketball falls short on the playoff stage
OAK CREEK — Everyone came out to see Soroco High School on Tuesday. Members of the Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team came in to buy their tickets as the girls’ game was ending. There were Hayden High School basketball players walking around. And, as the boys crowded around, watching the girls play before them, they were happy to see the stands gaining fans, instead of losing them. For the first time in three years, the Rams have a winning record and are in the playoffs. It was icing on the cake that they got to host it, making that night a basketball doubleheader. Soroco (10-9, 7-5) hosted Meeker (9-10, 7-5) in the district quarterfinal, a team it had defeated 68-61 on Feb. 7 at home, but the outcome would be different this time. The Rams fell to the Cowboys 60-38. “I think they just upped the tempo on us and got us out of rhythm, and things just started falling apart,” Rams head coach Leif Carlson said. “They hit some open shots early, and I think we’re in a little bit of shock. I guess we were a step behind.” The Rams were off to a slow start in the first, falling to a 17-7 deficit. They added 11 points in the second, but the Cowboys stayed comfortably ahead at half, 30-18. “Meeker’s defense played really good tonight. It was tough to get our 3-point shooting going,” Carlson said. The Cowboys were making 3-pointers and grabbing rebounds while the Rams had fewer shots to take and less time to make them. “They’re really good in the post,” Carlson said. “Anytime they ran the ball in the post, they caused some damage. If anything, we needed to box out better, and we didn’t.” The Rams emerged with new energy in the second half, where they had their highest scoring quarter with 15 points. Junior Nick Estes took an inbound pass to the outside, then pounded down the center of the paint for a layup. He stole the ball on the next play but, unfortunately, didn’t convert.
The Rams learned how to make something out of nothing. Junior Jesse Koler went in for a layup, launching the ball behind him over his head. Senior Grant Redmond came in behind him to tap it in, like it was on purpose. Redmond finished the game with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Estes added nine points and three steals. Koler had eight points. “I’m really proud of those guys,” Carlson said. “They took me seriously at halftime when I told them we needed to attack the rim. Nick and Jesse, I’m always proud of those guys. They leave it all out on the floor.” Unfortunately, the Rams’ efforts fell short. The Cowboys didn’t stop making 3-pointers and continued to find rhythm to secure the win. The Rams will play the loser of Vail Christian and Rangely at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21 at De Beque. The Rams will have to win that game and the next one to advance to the regional tournament. “We can’t take back what happened, so tomorrow, show up to practice, wins or losses, shrug them off and focus on the next game,” Carlson said. “No magic. Just got to work hard.” To reach Leah Vann, call 970-871-4253, email lvann@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @LVann_Sports.
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