Steamboat Springs It wasn’t hard to see Friday evening what would have made Soroco instantly competitive in its home-court showdown against rival Hayden.
Unfortunately for the Rams, no 6-foot-tall girls looking for a team to join walked through the gymnasium door to lend a hand. Hayden relied on its own towers of power, and after a slow start, the Tigers beat Soroco.
The Tigers outscored the Rams, 40-17, in the second and third quarters and cruised to a 60-38 victory.
“We really wanted to make a statement tonight,” Hayden senior Rachael Koehler said. “We got off to a slow start, but then we got to it.”
It was close early in the game, and Soroco led for most of the first quarter. Hayden proved turnover prone, and the Rams were stout on defense. They repeatedly denied entry passes to Hayden’s talented posts, sisters Rachael and Erin Koehler.
The Rams led, 7-2, in to the final two minutes of the period.
Soroco’s defense couldn’t hold up, however, and Hayden took advantage in a big way. Held scoreless in the first quarter, the Koehlers went to work in the second. Rachael Koehler scored five and then had eight in the third quarter en route to a game-high 15. Sophomore Erin Koehler scored six in the second period.
Hayden’s guards worked the ball around the perimeter long enough to find a gap in the defense and then tossed it inside, where Soroco was ill-equipped to stop them.
“If they caught the ball, they would score,” Soroco coach David Bruner said. “We had been fronting their low post, but we got a little tired, and we couldn’t get in front anymore. Once they caught it on the block, it was done, and the girls knew that.”
The sisters combined to finish with 25 points.
“We’ve always dreamed of playing together, so it’s really fun,” Erin Koehler said. “We worked on that all summer. Then tonight, we knew we had size, and we knew that would help a lot. We worked well together.”
Soroco’s problems ran deeper than post defense, however. The team shot the ball 68 times, right on par with the style Bruner has spent three seasons trying to implement. Only 11 of those went in, however, and given Hayden’s height advantage, Soroco wasn’t able to earn many second chances.
Soroco junior Ceanna Rossi finished with 10 rebounds. Junior Corey Snyder had 11 points and sophomore Madison George had nine, but with so many misses and a spat of turnovers, the Rams weren’t left with much to work with.
“We got shots. We just didn’t make many,” Bruner said.
Soroco turns around to play at 2:30 p.m. today at home against Vail Christian. The boys team follows at 4 p.m. Hayden returns to the court Thursday for the Green River Tournament.
When the Tigers do, they’ll be filled with confidence.
“This feels really, really good. We waited for this game for a long time,” Rachael Koehler said. “We proved to everyone that we’re back. I’m really excited for this season.”