Twice would be nice for Rams | SteamboatToday.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Twice would be nice for Rams

Soroco girls hope to repeat as league champs

Soroco freshman Justice Sales, right, leads the way down the court during a conditioning drill during basketball practice on Tuesday in Oak Creek. All three local high school girls basketball teams will begin their seasons this weekend, Thursday for Hayden and Soroco and Friday for Steamboat Springs.
Joel Reichenberger

Soroco girls basketball

Last season: 19-4

Top returning players: Briana Peterson, senior, scored 15.1 points per game and had 7.3 rebounds. DaKota Bruner, junior, led the team in 3-pointers despite missing the second half of the season with an injury.

It will all come down to: The district tournament. Soroco won its side of the Western Slope League a year ago but couldn’t hang with top programs from the other side of the league, like Paonia. If Soroco’s going to take that next step, it needs to win tough games against elite teams.

Steamboat girls basketball

Last season: 4-16

Top returning players: Jenna Miller, senior, is a strong all-around athlete who provides veteran experience in the lane. Annie Osbourn, senior, also has plenty of experience and is coming back from a knee injury suffered early last season.

It will all come down to: Scoring. The team averaged 31 points per game last season and failed to top 25 in 10 games. It’s difficult to win like that, to say the least.

Hayden girls basketball

Last season: 6-13

Top returning players: Darian Murphy, junior, was third on the team in scoring last year. Grace Wilkie, junior, was fourth and missed most of the end of the season with an injury.

It will all come down to: Development. The team graduated its top two scorers and nine total seniors but returns talent and youth. For a successful season, those players need to find their own rhythm together.

— They’ve been there, and they’ve been back.

Now, the Soroco High School girls basketball team is hoping this can be the year it punches through the regional tournament and on to state.

Soroco girls basketball

Last season: 19-4



Top returning players: Briana Peterson, senior, scored 15.1 points per game and had 7.3 rebounds. DaKota Bruner, junior, led the team in 3-pointers despite missing the second half of the season with an injury.

It will all come down to: The district tournament. Soroco won its side of the Western Slope League a year ago but couldn’t hang with top programs from the other side of the league, like Paonia. If Soroco’s going to take that next step, it needs to win tough games against elite teams.



They have a young but experienced team with which to accomplish that task.

There are other goals first, such as getting a strong start Thursday when the team opens play in the Meeker Cowboy Shoot Out tournament against Nucla. Then, the Rams hope to repeat as league champs, which would be a first for the school’s girls hoops program.

“We’re excited,” coach David Bruner said. “Their expectations are high, and they’re willing to work hard.”

The squad will be led by senior Briana Peterson and junior DaKota Bruner, an inside-outside combo, respectively, that accounts for two of the league’s top players. It will take more than those two to repeat last season’s accomplishments, however.

The biggest question mark comes playing opposite Peterson, where Jessica Rossi reigned as the team’s leading scorer and rebounder.

The scoring, David Bruner said, won’t be his biggest concern. He said there are enough young players lined up to contribute to the program in that regard. The rebounding, however, will take more work.

Soroco is coming off two of the best seasons in school history, and last year’s league title was the school’s first since 1996. The Rams have been unable to crack through against the elite teams in the district and regional tournaments, however, namely Meeker and Paonia. Of the team’s 12 losses the last two seasons, eight have come against those two schools.

Injuries have been a part of that story. Peterson missed much of her sophomore season, and DaKota Bruner much of last season.

This year, though, the Rams are hoping everything will be different.

“We expect to win when we step on the court,” coach Bruner said. “You have to have a little luck to not get hurt. We haven’t had that in the past. If we stay healthy, we’ll have a shot.”

Sailors plan to bounce back

It doesn’t take coach Mack Spitellie long to find a reason why this year’s Steamboat Springs High School girls basketball team will be better than last year’s.

Steamboat girls basketball

Last season: 4-16

Top returning players: Jenna Miller, senior, is a strong all-around athlete who provides veteran experience in the lane. Annie Osbourn, senior, also has plenty of experience and is coming back from a knee injury suffered early last season.

It will all come down to: Scoring. The team averaged 31 points per game last season and failed to top 25 in 10 games. It’s difficult to win like that, to say the least.

That offensively-challenged squad sputtered to a 4-16 record and last place in the Western Slope League.

Spitellie simply has to look out on the floor at practice, where he sees a court full of healthy players.

“The beauty this year is I have almost everyone back who was hurt,” Spitellie said.

That includes big players, like senior point guard Annie Osbourn, who went down with a knee injury early last season. She said she had to have a little more work done on her knee recently, but that she should be back on the court at 100 percent by the middle of this month.

Osbourn’s injury a year ago, followed up by more at the point guard position, left the team struggling to get any flow to its offense.

The positive of those hard lessons, though, is the young, inexperienced players forced into action then now have plenty of varsity experience under their belts.

“We’re way better off,” Spitellie said. “Now it’s about working our butts off in here and getting better every day.”

Just what a successful team will look like Spitellie said is still a bit up in the air. But there are things he does know.

He said the squad will rely on returning leading scorers Jenna Miller and Maddie Clock and that, all around, it’s a longer, more athletic team.

He expects a more consistent defense and, with that experience at the guard position, better ball handling.

Beyond that, though, he’s hoping to get plenty of answers when the season starts Friday and Saturday at the Brenda Patch Tournament at Roaring Fork High School, where the team will play Roaring Fork and Aspen.

“We’re working through all of our issues as far as who we’re going to be, what our identity will be,” he said. “Once we figure that out, we’ll be alright.”

Hayden eyes improvement

There’s height coming, Hayden High School girls basketball coach Michelle Wilkie said, prognosticating about which players currently in seventh and eighth grades may join her program in the future.

For now, though, the Tigers are a woefully short team, and Wilkie said it’s going to take a special brand of tenacious basketball for the team to compete this season and realize the goals she’s confident it can reach.

“Our average height is 5-6, so we’re little, but we’re doing a lot of good things,” said Wilkie, who is preparing her team to start its season Thursday.

That will mean playing aggressive all season but also taking care of the ball as turnovers sank the Tigers many times in their 6-13 season a year ago.

Leading the way there will be two of the team’s most experienced players, junior guards Darian Murphy and Grace Wilkie. The duo ranked third and fourth on the team in scoring as sophomores and will need to take the lead if the team is to stay competitive in the Western Slope.

“Even though they’re skinny little guards, their basketball knowledge is pretty great, and they’re starting to feel each other really well,” Wilkie said. “We’ve got a great group of kids out. If they can buy in, I know they can do it this season. They can win more than they think they can.”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.