West Grand passes Soroco girls hoops in final frame

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— The West Grand girls threw up a prayer and had it answered.

After gaining a one-basket lead over Soroco High School with under three minutes to go in Friday night's basketball match-up in Oak Creek, West Grand coach Larry Banman told his players they were only allowed to shoot if it was a guaranteed layup or a free throw.

But when West Grand senior Jessica Elliott had her shot, she took it.

"I was just praying that it would go in," Elliott said of the jump shot she nailed with a minute to go to secure the 36-32 West Grand win.

West Grand took an early lead, but Soroco's full-court press started paying dividends in the second quarter as Soroco point guard Glenda Long grabbed five steals and Sarajane Rossi scored eight points to turn around what was a 10-6 deficit after the first quarter.

Just before halftime, Long took measures into her own hands. In one possession, she blocked a shot, grabbed a rebound, moved the ball in transition and then found Rossi for an easy layup to pad the Rams' 21-13 lead heading into the half.

"Soroco is very scrappy, and they do a good job taking you out of your game and making you make bad decisions," Banman said.

Both teams cooled off quickly in a sleeper of a third quarter in which the Rams tallied a single field goal and the Mustangs scored only five points.

Although the Rams gave up some key transition buckets to open the fourth quarter, Long found freshman Corey Snyder under the hoop to bring Soroco within one point with 1 minute, 39 seconds to go - only to set up Elliot's crucial game winner.

Rossi led Soroco with 13 points and eight rebounds in a game dedicated to senior guard Bailey Carrell, who graduated at semester and will not see the Rams into their league schedule, which starts tomorrow at Plateau Valley.

"I'm hoping it was just knocking the cobwebs off from the break," Soroco coach Danelle Rivera said, still scratching her head with the 18 points the Rams gave up in the final quarter. "From the get-go they didn't have the tempo they needed to put that game away : but tomorrow is a league game if they are looking to redeem themselves."

- To reach Dave Shively, call 871-4253

or e-mail dshively@steamboatpilot.com

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