Baby steps. That's what Soroco girls basketball coach Danelle Rivera wants the Rams to take each practice and each game. And although Soroco may have lost, 41-34, to Rangely, that is exactly what it took Friday.
"Our league scheduling is starting up," Rivera said. "This will be what we will see, and it's so open. We can be at the top if we just play like we know we can. It's baby steps right now."
The Rams (1-5 overall) likely will see their fair share of zone defenses, as opponents dare them to make outside shots. For three quarters Friday, Soroco struggled to hit its perimeter looks, and Rangely pulled ahead by as much as 11.
But then came the fourth quarter, and the rims opened for the Rams. Soroco closed a nine-point Panthers lead to two with 3 minutes, 26 seconds left in the game.
Junior Cortni Denning converted a three-point play. Senior Paige Iacovetto hit another outside shot and made two free throws, and senior Nichole Wilson converted an inside opportunity and made a free throw.
"They are starting to see their shots can fall," Rivera said.
In all, seven Soroco players scored Friday, which is more than baby steps in the right direction. Iacovetto led all scorers with 12 points. Juniors Katie Schalnus and Kyla Schmidt each had six.
Iacovetto said Friday's fourth-quarter comeback bid should give the team confidence heading into its 5:30 p.m. Tuesday game against rival Hayden in Oak Creek. Now, those players who hit open looks need to take those shots without hesitation.
"If they miss, they'll get down on themselves," Iacovetto said about some of her teammates. "But they have to keep shooting. ... We really are close."
Many of Soroco's varsity team members have worked with former coach Bob Johnson since third grade. Adjusting to a new coach and a new system isn't a one- or two-game transition. It takes time, or baby steps, as Rivera said. She and the players seem to have accepted it but agree they are ready to win as early as Tuesday.
"I think we are getting used to our new coach," Iacovetto said.