Steamboat Springs Fast starts to each half and a high-flying, high-scoring performance by senior Alex Estes proved more than enough for the Soroco High School boys basketball team to lay waste to North Park on Friday night in Oak Creek.
Soroco fell asleep in both the second and fourth quarters, but the Rams still beat the Wildcats, 49-33.
“We played all right, not great,” Estes said. “We moved the ball around pretty well at first, but sometimes we kind of let down.”
Although it may have seemed the game was over after about the first five minutes of the first quarter — Soroco held a 14-2 lead at one point — North Park showed life in the second quarter. The Wildcats started putting the kibosh on the Rams’ fast-break attack and found points of their own. Down 22-5 early in the second frame, they scored 10 of the next 13 points.
Soroco regained the edge in the final seconds of the first half. Junior forward Leif Carlson took a ball low on the block and leapt high, dropping it in for an easy two points as the buzzer sounded.
Estes again led the charge after the break, and Soroco went on a devastating 18-4 run that removed all doubt as to the outcome, even though North Park again outscored Soroco in a quarter, taking the fourth, 14-4.
Cody Miles, one of the Rams’ three seniors and their top returning scorer, broke his hand this month and is out for the season. A plan to replace his seemingly irreplaceable points began to emerge Friday.
First, Estes took control. He did it all, leaping high to grab out-of-reach rebounds and higher to block shots. He cut through the defense and into the lane and dropped in shots from point-blank range, and he bombed 3-pointers from the corners of the court.
He finished with 20.
“We didn’t play a whole game, and to fill in for Cody, you have to play a whole game. You have to hustle and work until the last second,” Estes said. “He’s a big part of our team, but we can win without him. We just have to hustle.”
Carlson and senior forward Matt Watwood, meanwhile, concentrated on cleaning up misses with their strong rebounding presences. Both managed to score plenty of points, as well, and along with Estes accounted for the team’s entire offense. Carlson, a junior in his first season playing for Soroco, poured in 15. Watwood had 14.
“We wanted the posts to have a big game, and we did,” Carlson said. “The drop step was working for me. I’ve been working on that for a long time, and it came together.”
Turnovers cost Soroco girls against North Park
To Soroco girls basketball coach David Bruner, the analysis seemed pretty straightforward. A turnover-plagued first half killed his team, and a comparatively turnover-free second half made it a close game.
The second half wasn’t enough Friday night, however, and the Rams fell to North Park, 54-45.
“The thing that changed was we didn’t turn the ball over in the second half,” Bruner said. “That was really the difference in the game. We turned it over too much in the first half.”
Soroco, 3-4, stumbled with 14 giveaways in the first two quarters. Those mistakes came in every way imaginable, from poor passes to a series of traveling calls.
The scoreboard reflected the Rams’ troubles. North Park was up 16-11 after the first quarter and extended that lead to 11 points by the end of the second.
“We get lackadaisical sometimes,” Bruner said. “We’re starting three sophomores and playing a lot of freshmen, so we’re super young. But eventually we have to get over it. We just do.
“It’s frustrating to them. Their effort is awesome, and they play to the whistle every game.”
Bruner said a reduction to five turnovers in the second half fueled his team’s comeback. The Rams never pulled within one score, but cut the gap from 11 at halftime to six early in the fourth quarter. When it wasn’t giving so many possessions away, Soroco generated far more shots, and that turned into more points. Sophomore Shelby Miles led that effort and caught fire in the fourth quarter. She dumped in three 3-point shots in that period and finished the night with a game-high 19 points.
Kaitlyn Hanson paced North Park with 16, and Hillary Rizor scored 15. Junior Corey Snyder scored eight for Soroco, and Ceanna Rossi and Caitlyn Berry each added seven.