Steamboat Springs Soroco boys basketball coach Sam McLeod thinks his team is starting to play its best basketball of the season.
Despite losing 74-59 to Paonia on Saturday, McLeod said "it was the best we've played all year."
Down by 10 in the fourth quarter, Soroco cut the lead to eight, but Paonia hit its foul shots down the stretch to extend the lead and seal the win.
Bryan Spaeth scored 18 of his team-leading 22 points in the second half. McLeod also noted the "solid" defensive rebounding and shot blocking provided by Steven Meade.
Soroco used the momentum to roll over Rangely on Tuesday night, 63-45.
"We came out, start to finish, and took it to them," McLeod said.
After a close first quarter, Spaeth began to create steals and convert transition buckets to break open a commanding lead for the Rams, who were up, 54-27, heading into the fourth quarter.
Spaeth led Soroco with 31 points and eight steals, Meade added seven points and eight blocks, and Cody Miles chipped in seven points and seven rebounds.
The win puts the Rams at 4-11 overall and 2-6 in league play. They're in a three-way tie for sixth place.
The Soroco girls lost their last two games, falling to Paonia, 57-32, and to Rangely, 27-22. They are now at 4-12 overall.
Soroco plays its final regular season games at home Saturday against Meeker.
The girls play at 2:30 p.m., and the boys play at 4 p.m.
Steamboat athletes impress at qualifiers
A few Steamboat Springs athletes had impressive showings at the 5430 Winter Triathlon USAT National Championships on Sunday at Devil's Thumb Ranch near Fraser.
Steamboat Springs' Katie Lindquist took fourth place in the women's field, finishing in 2 hours, 37 minutes and 29 seconds.
"For me, it was a strong finish," Lindquist said. "It was definitely full of top competitors. The gals right behind me were at the top of the XTERRA (off-road triathlon) circuit, and there was a pro mountain biker in front of me. It was a gas - such a fun experience."
The race served as USA Triathlon's National and ITU Pan American Championship, where the top two competitors in each age division qualified for the U.S. team at the World Winter Triathlon Championships on March 4 in Flassen, Italy.
Lindquist's victory in her age division as well as Steamboat resident Jenna Gruben's second-place finish in her division put them in that category.
Lindquist, however, said she won't be able to attend the world championships.
Vail's Mike Kloser, the 47-year-old adventure racing legend, won the race in 1:44:15, and Grand Junction's Keri Nelson was the top overall female in 2:14:47.
Steamboat's Ben Clark finished 29th overall, and two other local athletes, Hadley Graham and Jennifer Kerr, had podium finishes in their divisions.
Visit www.5430sports.com for full results.
Snowboarders top Next Snow Search event
Madeline Schaffrick continues to dominate the All Stars events of Sports Illustrated Kids Next Snow Search.
Schaffrick won the superpipe competition at last year's All Stars event in Keystone. At Friday and Saturday's event at the Steamboat Ski Area, the 12-year-old took first place in the girls snowboard division of the event's judged superpipe competition and first place in the girls snowboard Big Mountain Race.
Grant Murray, 14, took fourth place in the boys snowboard superpipe and slopestyle competitions.
"They're definitely two of our more dedicated athletes. They're having fun, and the results go to show how hard they've been working," Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club snowboard program director Jon Casson said.
Other top local finishes included Summer Smalley's fifth place in the girls snowboard superpipe, Drew Dummit's seventh place in the boys snowboard superpipe, Adrian Pougiales' 11th place in boys ski superpipe and Chapman Geer's 17th place in boys ski slopestyle.
Visit www.nextsnow.com for full results.
U.S. Ski Team Day returns to Steamboat Ski Area
Skiers and snowboarders dreaming of becoming part of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard team will have their chance Friday.
The Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. has announced the return of the second annual U.S. Ski Team Day.
For each ticket sold Friday, Steamboat will donate $1 to the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team to support and develop programs for rising athletes.
Last year's inaugural U.S. Ski Team Day helped kick off the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, as more than 50,000 skiing enthusiasts became honorary team members for the day.
The Steamboat Ski Area is one of more than 40 U.S. resorts and ski areas participating in the program.
"We know that tomorrow's competitors are making turns today at ski areas and resorts across the country," said Bill Marolt, U.S. Ski Team President and CEO. "Our gratitude goes out to our partner resorts for helping us groom the next generation of U.S. athletes."