In basketball, in makes no difference which team holds the lead the longest. All that matters is which team has the most points when the final horn sounds, and that's about as long as the Soroco boys basketball team had the lead Friday night.
Soroco defeated North Park, 56-48, after holding the lead for a combined 4 minutes, 39 seconds.
The Rams took a 5-4 lead early in the first quarter and didn't have the lead again until the 3:10 mark in the fourth, when sophomore Bryan Spaeth turned a steal into two points for a 45-43 edge.
Junior Ben Montoya made seven of 10 free throws in the fourth to seal the win for Soroco. Four of the Rams' first five games have been close, and they've come out on top in two of them.
"We can't seem to get away from the close games," Montoya said. "It was back and forth. In the first half, we didn't play so well."
Soroco's offense was dealt a blow early when senior starter Tony Iacovetto picked up his second foul two minutes into the game. His absence freed up North Park's DJ Souza, who was shadowing Iacovetto most of the night, to get more involved on offense. He scored five points to close out the first quarter, giving his team a 10-7 lead. Souza finished with 20, but Iacovetto finished with 29, scoring most of his points in the second half.
The Wildcats held their edge through the second, third and most of the fourth quarters until Iacovetto's lay-in at the 3:35 mark tied the game before Spaeth gave Soroco the lead.
Soroco's guards stepped up their defensive pressure, forcing North Park into mistakes. Montoya made his free throws to secure the win, a win the team wanted heading into the holiday break. Soroco is 3-2 overall.
"It was our goal to be here," Rams coach Andy Smith said.
Other than Iacovetto and senior Denis Luark, the Rams are relatively inexperienced but have proved to be more than capable in close games, including Friday's, in which sophomores and juniors played pivotal roles in the win.
"They play like it's not varsity," Smith said. "Ben played huge (Friday). ... The big guys aren't tall, but they play huge."
Soroco's next game is at 7 p.m. Jan. 7 against Rangely.