Soroco junior Kourtney Bruner goes up for the shot against Plateau Valley on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at Soroco High School. (Photo by Leah Vann)
OAK CREEK — A rhythmic clap put fans on their feet in the final seconds.
Soroco High School senior Chloe Veilleux was just sent to the line, making a final free throw to clock in the win.
The Rams (17-3, 9-2) defeated the Plateau Valley High School Cowboys (12-8, 4-7) in their first round of playoffs, 61-54.
The Rams’ shots were falling where they should all night. Veilleux led the team with 25 points, including six 3-pointers and three out of four attempts from the line.
But, where they fell short was defense. The Rams gave up 22 points in the first quarter but held the Cowboys to seven in the second quarter for a 31-29 score at half. Soroco scored 20 points in the third quarter behind two of Veilleux’s 3-pointers and another by freshman Kayedence Bruner, who finished with 11 points on the night. Senior Kayla Wille added a fourth, finishing with 10 points.
“We played terrible defense the whole game,” Rams head coach David Bruner said. “That’s one thing about these kids, but that’s one thing about these kids. They played terrible defense and were still able to win.”
The Rams beat the Cowboys 70-41 on Feb. 8 to secure their spot as second in the Class 1A/2A Western Slope league, but tonight, the Cowboys had more opportunities to charge to the basket. Plateau Valley’s Madison Clark scored all of her 13 points in the first quarter.
“We didn’t stop any penetration, even to step in and take a charge,” Bruner said. “We let people right to the basket. We’ve never done that.”
Soroco sophomore Makinley Parker dribbles past a defender against Plateau Valley on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at Soroco High School. (Photo by Leah Vann)
A narrow 58-54 lead in the fourth quarter made the game excitingly close. But the drive to win, a culture the Rams have established, is what ultimately led to their success, but as they move deeper into the playoffs, they’ll have to pour on the pressure.
“Glad they won, but they shouldn’t be happy with the way they played,” Bruner said. “Expectations with this program are a lot higher than most. We’re used to winning 17-20 games a year … These senior girls have won 72 games in high school, that’s how it is.”
The Rams move to play Hotchkiss (14-6, 7-4) in the Class 2A district 5 semifinal at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, at De Beque.
“I’ll take some of the responsibility for it,” Bruner said. “I didn’t have them ready to where they needed to be, but we’ll be ready for Friday, I guarantee you, after tomorrow’s practice.”
To reach Leah Vann, call 970-871-4253, email lvann@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @LVann_Sports.
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