Steamboat Springs When the Soroco High School basketball teams arrived in De Beque last Friday for a four-team basketball tournament, they were told the tournament would be canceled because of a power outage.
The lights eventually came back on and the host team retook the court against the Soroco girls to open tourney play. But it was the Soroco girls who put together a lights-out performance of their own to kick off the season.
Led by 20 points from Sarajane Rossi, Soroco defeated De Beque, 48-34, en route to a second-place finish at the weekend tournament.
"It was good team performance," Soroco head coach Danelle Rivera said of the team's best finish in recent years. The De Beque game "was definitely a team effort - well-rounded from the scoring to the rebounding."
Unfortunately, the Rams could not continue the balanced play, running into what Rivera described as a mental barrier Saturday morning against Plateau Valley.
"When you face a team that you have a history of losses against, you have to get over that hump rather than the actual team," Rivera said of Plateau Valley, who returned lead-scorer Jami Smith to a squad that qualified for last year's state tournament. "Our defense was not as strong. Like I said, we were fighting the mental more than the physical - which we're playing strong - and we're resolved to change that."
Soroco fell to the Plateau Valley girls, 61-31, but bounced back with an easy 53-27 win against a heavily-depleted Nucla squad to secure the second-place finish.
The Soroco girls take on Vail Christian in a non-Class 2A District 5 game at 1 p.m. Saturday. Rivera hopes that the Plateau Valley "reality check" will help the Rams get a win against their volleyball rivals.
Meanwhile, the Soroco boys, who participated in the same tournament, could not earn that key first win against De Beque, but not for lack of trying. Soroco went back and forth with what coach Sam McLeod called "an extremely quick and aggressive" De Beque team. The Rams rallied from behind to tie the game at 49 with two minutes to go, but couldn't create crucial turnovers down the stretch. Soroco lost 59-57. Ryan Tibbetts led the Rams with 26 points, and Alex Estes added 10.
On Saturday morning, Soroco faced a Plateau Valley team that handed the Rams their worst loss of last season. Despite this year's 58-43 loss, McLeod thought the game was the best and most balanced his team has played.
"It's motivating because it's a good measuring stick to see we can compete and play with anybody in the district," McLeod said.
Soroco rounded out tournament play Saturday by breaking away from a tie game against Nucla with some tough defense and transition offense to win, 50-39.
"It's a better start then we've had in the past, especially considering that almost all the guys are new to varsity and there's no seniors," McLeod said. "We're definitely headed in the right direction, and with guys that have been in the program three years now, the lights are starting to come on."
Soroco plays at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Vail Christian, a team the Rams split a pair of overtime games with last season.