In basketball, 5 inches can make all the difference. The Soroco girls basketball team found that out Friday night.
North Park center Amanda Jones is 6-foot-2, and Soroco spent a majority of the evening trying to stop her with Nichole Wilson, 5-foot-9, and Hallie Shiner, 5-foot-8.
It didn't work so well, as the Wildcats defeated the Rams 61-28.
"That was a tough one," said Soroco coach Bob Johnson.
North Park is the favorite to win the league. And if the Wildcats have as much ease scoring down low for the rest of the season as they did Friday, they will run away with the title.
Jones and junior Sammi Schellhaas, 5-foot-11, combined to score 32 points for North Park. Junior Laura Hodgson added 15 from the perimeter, as well.
The Wildcats got out to a 12-point lead in the first quarter before Soroco senior Kaleyne Gneiser banked a three-pointer as time expired in the first.
The Rams turned things around offensively in the second, as Gneiser connected on another three right out of the huddle. North Park went on a 9-0 run shortly thereafter, but Soroco closed to within nine points with 3 minutes, 7 seconds left before halftime. The nine points ended up being as close as the Rams ever got to the Wildcats.
"We made so many bad passes," Johnson said. "We have to slow it down and get a good shot. Sometimes we just threw the ball away."
Soroco's lack of height was magnified against North Park, so it was essential for the Rams to value each possession they had and limit the Wildcats' offensive touches. Turnovers wrecked that part of the game plan.
Soroco's bid to upset the league favorite wasn't helped when starting guards Paige Iacovetto and Gneiser went down with injuries. Iacovetto's ankle hampered her most of the game, and Gneiser's injured hand forced her to leave in the third quarter. Senior guard Allegra Bonfiglio had to leave the game in the fourth quarter with an injury, as well.
Shiner, Iacovetto and Gneiser all had six points to lead Soroco.
Both coaches emptied their benches with five minutes left in the fourth quarter after North Park extended its 13-point halftime lead to 27 by the end of the third.
The loss drops Soroco to 3-3 overall and 0-1 in league play.
North Park returns to action at 4 p.m. today in Hayden in nonleague action.
Soroco has several weeks off before resuming league play at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 9 in Grand Valley.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org