Oak Creek The drain of emotion was hard to ignore.
From choked tears to bench chairs pushed over in silence following its disappointing, 45-42 loss to West Grand on Friday night, the Soroco boys basketball team had a right to be bitter.
Soroco, a team without a single senior, pushed an older, thicker and stronger team to the brink, only to come up short on a couple of possessions in the final minute of play.
"You're never satisfied with a loss," Soroco coach Sam McLeod said. "We just didn't make plays down the stretch and they did."
Soroco matched West Grand's size and experience with raw speed in the first quarter. Soroco point guard Alex Estes was pushing the ball in transition, running the floor and converting baskets to put the Rams up, 15-12. With eight seconds to go in the quarter, Estes found sophomore teammate Cody Miles, who sank a 3-pointer before the clock expired for a 17-10 lead.
But in the second quarter, the Mustangs settled into a more patient brand of offense to temper the Rams' speed. Then, West Grand senior Mackenzie Widener got the hot hand. He sank three 3-pointers, the third enough to give the Mustangs a 29-27 lead headed into the half.
Estes managed Soroco's only pair of field goals in a slow third quarter. The Rams then tied up the Mustangs - who also only scored twice - in a back-and-forth quarter where both teams traded steals and struggled to possess the ball.
Soroco's Bobby Mason pulled down a pair of key rebounds to keep the Rams hopes alive in the final three minutes of the game, and Miles even sank a couple free throws to put Soroco ahead, 40-39, with 2 1/2 minutes to go. But a costly turnover and a bizarre offensive foul call squelched the Rams' chances to score while the Mustangs converted their chance and then delivered from the free-throw line to close out the win.
Miles led Soroco with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Estes chipped in 12 points. Michael Davis had nine rebounds.
Soroco opens its league season today at Plateau Valley.
- To reach Dave Shively, call 871-4253
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