Soroco boys survive game with Rangely

Rams manage to hold off Panthers comeback, secure 74-71 win


Game statistics

Soroco 74, Rangely 71

Rangely 18-9-25-19 - 71

Soroco 20-25-14-15 - 74

Rangely - Phelan 8 19-21 37, Morton 5 2-3 12, Dahl 3 3-6 10, Chavez 1 0-0 2, Brady 3 1-4 7. Totals 20 25-34 71.

Soroco - Tibbetts 11 0-2 27, Miles 6 5-13 17, Anderson 1 0-0 2, Estes 4 4-7 13, Watwood 1 5-6 8, Mason 1 1-1 3, Schmidt 2 0-0 4. Totals 26 15-29 74.

3-pointers - Rangely (2) - Phelan 2. Soroco (6) - Tibbetts 5, Estes.

Soroco boys basketball, 2008-09

— School wasn't in session Saturday night in Oak Creek, but the Soroco High School boys basketball team stumbled upon a whole semester's worth of lessons as it played host to Rangely.

The amazing part: The team got the chance to learn all it did wrong and still managed to come away with a win.

Soroco outlasted a tremendous free throw performance from Rangely's Patrick Phelan, survived a poor performance from the line of its own and overcame a nearly disastrous second half.

For all the negative lessons the team absorbed, it also learned just how well it can play when things are going well, and that, in the end, was enough to give Soroco the 74-71 victory.

"It was a lesson in how good we can play in one half," Soroco coach Sam McLeod said, "and a lesson in how bad we can play in another."

The key to the game for Soroco was its powerful 25-point second quarter. They outscored the Panthers by 16 in the period and blew a 20-18 game wide open.

Alex Estes, Ryan Tibbetts and Cody Miles all scored before Rangely could even get on the board in the period, and that was all before Tibbetts really took control.

He scored 27 points to lead Soroco and - after sinking three 3-point shots in the first quarter - tallied 12 points in the second.

Rangely increasingly focused its defensive pressure on him, but it hardly seemed to matter. Just a few seconds remained in the quarter when he took a pass near the Rangely bench. He worked his way around to the top of the key with a pair of Panthers matching him step for step. They couldn't keep him from pulling up for a shot, however. He drained his fifth 3-point shot of the game, and the defenders who had been shadowing him could only shrug their shoulders.

"We played a pretty good game in the first half," Tibbetts said. "That's the team we want to be. We were running at a high tempo and running the heck out of them."

The Rams' lead swelled to 22, 49-27, but an aggressive Rangely defense took advantage of suddenly lazy Soroco passes. Phelan was nearly unstoppable and finished with 37 points. He led the way on defense, then scored from the inside and outside on offense. But he was most effective at the free throw line, where he made 19 of 21 in the game.

"I usually shoot a pretty high percentage like that," he said after the game. "I usually don't get that many opportunities."

Rangely closed to within seven points at the end of the third quarter and three points with less than 40 seconds remaining.

Soroco struggled to top 50 percent in shooting its own free throws, but finally got a lift when Estes made two with three seconds remaining. Rangely whiffed on a last-second 3-point attempt and the Rams survived.

"We played tight with the lead. We don't play as hard or as intensely and we lose focus," McLeod said. "I've got to do something to get them better mentally prepared to play with a lead."

- To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail


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