Soroco High School basketball players run sprints during a preseason practice Saturday. After opening the season with a win Tuesday, Soroco travels to West Grand on Friday for a two-day tournament.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Soroco High School basketball players run sprints during a preseason practice Saturday. After opening the season with a win Tuesday, Soroco travels to West Grand on Friday for a two-day tournament.

Soroco High School returns 5 starters to basketball court

Rams expectations high

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Soroco boys basketball, 2008-09

— Soroco High School senior Ryan Tibbetts isn't worried about the past.

All the losses he has endured on the basketball court during the past three years really don't matter a whole lot to him. Instead, the Rams leading scorer a year ago has sensed a cultural change not only in the basketball program, but also in the school.

Losing is not acceptable anymore, Tibbetts said. High expectations and wins are now the norm.

"It kind of almost comes from football," Tibbetts said. "We started a winning tradition and want it to carry through. The school is getting better mentality wise. The fans are going to volleyball games and supporting each other. We've really gotten into that. It's almost like we're sick of it. We don't want to lose anymore, so we set expectations really high, and we know we can reach those goals."

Those goals include a trip to the state tournament. Tibbetts said the team decided when practice began to cross off the goals of district champs and a winning record, leaving just the word "state" circled.

Judging by the Rams roster and the layout of the district, Tibbetts and the rest of the Soroco team may not be far off from that goal.

The Rams return all five starters, may be the most athletic team in the district and have the size to create mismatches all across the court.

Along with Tibbetts, Soroco returns guards Alex Estes and Cody Miles, as well as forwards Bobby Mason and Robert Anderson. With all five starters more than 6 feet tall, Rams coach Sam McLeod knows his team has the opportunity to do something special.

Still, McLeod knows potential doesn't mean a lot this early in the season.

"I think the key is the same thing it usually is," McLeod said. "It's our mentality. We haven't had a lot of success, so it's learning to win and learning to carry yourself as a winner. You can't be satisfied with losing. They've got the athletic ability that we should be able to compete with anyone."

McLeod said he's not quite sure who Soroco's biggest competition will be. He mentioned cross-county rival Hayden and Meeker as two teams he expects to finish near the top of the district.

Soroco beat Moffat County's junior varsity, 73-53, on Tuesday and will head to the two-day West Grand Tournament on Friday. Although McLeod has one eye on district play, he said it's imperative the Rams get off to a fast start. With that, McLeod said, the Rams will be able to carry over that winning tradition.

"They need to experience early success and get a craving for it so they don't settle for anything less," he said. "Every game is phenomenally important."

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