Oak Creek Before the Soroco Rams boys and girls basketball teams took the floor against the Debeque Dragons Tuesday night, there was something different in the air. It was confidence and the smell of victory, as both teams broke losing streaks with wins after coming off of loses in North Park the Friday before.
For the boys, who picked up their first win of the year, what was in the air early on were shots. They started the game five of six from the field and went up with an early 10-5 lead.
Boys coach Andy Johnson said his team was working up to the win to give them a 1-13 record. Since the Rams lost against Hayden on Jan. 19, they've played more confident each game and key players have stepped up, as needed.
"Everybody has played better in the last few games," Andy Johnson said. "Each game we do a lot more."
That doesn't mean the Dragons, who beat Soroco in the beginning of the year by 17 points and have a 9-4 record, weren't laying down. They battled back in the first quarter behind shots by Mike Snook and Andrew Wilcox to tie the game, 12-12.
But the difference on Tuesday night for the boys was they didn't give up, and it was the young players that made the difference.
With nice drives and lay ups by freshmen Jack Means and C.J. Remick, and shots by sophomore Justin Spaeth and senior Brandon Himmerite, the Rams went into halftime with a rare, 24-19 lead.
The Dragons battled back again in the third quarter, throwing the Rams for a loop with a half-court trap defense. That stalled the Rams on offense and allowed for an 8-3 run for the Dragons to tie the game at 27-27, before the third quarter was over.
But again, the Rams showed adversity, breaking the trap and going on a 12-0 run in the fourth quarter. The Rams walked away with the victory, 48-35.
"It was more of what we did to ourselves," Dragons coach Jason Hatter said. "But they sure did give a real good effort."
The Dragons only made three free throws on 13 attempts, compared to the Rams who went 11 of 22 from the line. Most importantly in the fourth quarter, Jack Means went three for four from the line and Casey Means went two for two.
"We made the shots when we had to," Andy Johnson said.
Plus, with his young team learning more each game, the coach was able to throw in some different looks on defense against the Dragons, which threw the team off.
He led the team with 12 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Remick followed with 10 points and four rebounds, along with Spaeth and Jack Means with eight points and junior Casey Means with six points.
For the Soroco girls, who showed promise early in the year but went on a five game losing steak until Tuesday, the 54-49 win against the non-league Dragons was a sigh of relief.
"We're hoping to get a fresh start on the season," junior Sara Jo Linden said.
Like the boys, the girls went up early in the game 11-6, but slipped to a one-point lead at the end of the first quarter, 13-12.
The Dragons, playing a man-to-man and zone defenses, then went ahead early in the second quarter 15-13, with a Amber Bia three pointer.
Bia, the teams only starting senior, was all over the place on offense, scoring 31 of the Dragons' 49 points when the final buzzer sounded.
But the fast break was working for the Rams. Iacovetto and Broadbent connected numerous times after turnovers and rebounds to put the Rams up at halftime, 35-25.
The Rams maintained the lead using their size for rebounds and post points down the stretch to win the game, 54-49.
"We got good passing tonight," girls coach Bob Johnson said. "They looked for each other real good."
Also, senior Jamie Iacovetto took the part-time duty of taking the ball down the court half the game to free up senior point guard Sarah Broadbent. The result was the girls scoring 38 points combined, 22 from Iacovetto and 14 from Broadbent.
Linden helped out with scoring, too, with 12 points from her post position and showed smooth jump shots and post moves.
Also, senior Katharine Ford played tough defense and pulled down nine rebounds.
Both girls and boys play West Grand on Friday at home.
"They'll see an improved team," boys coach Andy Johnson said, in hopes of picking up his team a league win..
For the girls, now at 1-5 in league and 4-10 overall, they are looking to the win for an extra push on Friday.
"We're going to practice hard so I think we'll be ready," Linden said.
The girls start at 6 p.m. and the boys play at 7:30.