In the topsy-turvy first round of the Class 2A District 5 Tournament - which saw the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds eliminated - the Soroco boys basketball team could not add another upset to the list.
"It was not a fortuitous trip," Soroco coach Sam McLeod said about his team's 81-47 loss to No. 2 seed Grand Valley (17-3) Saturday at Plateau Valley. "They were extremely hot, hit everything and were on fire behind the 3-point line."
Although his team (the No. 7 seed) effectively shut out Cardinals sharpshooter Sam McKinley, McLeod thought perhaps the Rams focused too much on one player. Grand Valley senior center Luke Braby got his team's inside game going with 25 points while five of his teammates notched double figures in scoring.
Down 20 points at the half, the Rams struggled to generate offense. Bryan Spaeth led Soroco with 28 points, and Steven Meade added 10.
The loss ends the Rams' season and eliminates them from postseason play.
"I thought our (Feb. 10) game with Meeker was positive, but then we get hit by Grand Valley on either the wrong night or the wrong time when we're not hitting on all our cylinders," McLeod said, assessing a season he believes will help build the program in years to come. "We've got a lot of good, young players. Our JV had a successful season and the younger guys got a lot of varsity experience - the building pieces are in place, and we've got a lot to build on."
The Soroco girls, at 4-13 overall and without a league win on the season, also pulled a tough first-round match-up against No. 1-ranked Plateau Valley (17-1).
Although Soroco coach Danelle Rivera was pleased with how her girls came out in the first quarter to force Plateau Valley into adjustments, they had trouble hanging with the Cardinals' superb shooting and rebounding.
The Cowboys jumped ahead 35-13, and extended the lead, to win, 62-30.
Soroco's Kelsey Samuelson led all scorers with 16 points.
While the game marks the end of the road for Soroco's lone senior, Toni Lombardi, Rivera believed this year's on-court experience will prove invaluable for her young corps of players.
"(The experience) is huge as long as the girls continue to work, and I believe the majority will," said Rivera, who is looking forward to team summer camps. "All they have to figure out is meshing together and they'll be extremely strong - the bar was set high for these girls and there's no way I'm going to lower it."
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