Steamboat Springs Pardon coach Danelle Rivera if she gets defensive when talking about this year's Soroco girls basketball team.
"My teams are about defense. Always," she said. "It's a philosophy I grew up with."
The Rams welcome back two starters from last year: Kyla Schmidt and Katie Schalnus.
The squad is mostly sophomores, so defense and smart decision-making on offense will be important, especially early in the season, as the younger players gain experience.
But the underclassmen aren't intimidated, Rivera said. Many of them played varsity volleyball this fall, which should help smooth the transition for basketball.
"I think we have the ability to surprise ourselves and a lot of other people," Rivera said.
"When you have a young team with a couple good leaders on the floor, you kind of have to wait and see."
Soroco got the season started Friday afternoon at the DeBeque Tournament, but the Rams traveled to Grand Junction for three preseason scrimmages last weekend to see where they stacked up.
Soroco faced Aspen and junior varsity teams from Palisade and Grand Junction Central.
"We were very happy with our performance," Rivera said. "We held Aspen scoreless for 18 minutes."
The Rams continue play at the DeBeque Tournament today with games against Plateau Valley and Nucla.
Soroco's home opener is at 5:30 p.m. Friday against Vail Christian. Western Slope League play begins Dec. 10 against league newcomer Coal Ridge in New Castle.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org