Soroco girls basketball team to face a ‘must win’

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If you go

What: Soroco High School basketball

When: Girls play at 5 p.m. today, boys play at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Soroco High School gymnasium in Oak Creek

If you go

What: Hayden High School basketball

When: Boys play at 4 p.m. today, girls play at 5:30 p.m.

Where: North Park High School in Walden

The Soroco High School girls basketball took some heart in a late-game charge that brought the Rams to within two possessions of a talented Meeker squad in the second half of a loss last weekend.

But Rams coach David Bruner said close won’t be good enough any longer. The squad will try to finish off one of those drives starting at 5 p.m. today when it plays host to Plateau Valley.

“We need to win this game,” Bruner said. “This is a must win for us.”

A win tonight for Soroco (4-5) would break a long streak in the series between the two schools. Plateau Valley has won five consecutive games, including a 60-49 victory a year ago.

The Cowboys’ Zauri Kro­marek, then a junior, led the way in that game with 26 points. She hurt her knee in the fall and has yet to play this season, though Bruner said his team still was preparing to face the player who a year ago he labeled as one of the best he’d seen.

With or without Kormarek, Bruner said his Rams will have to be at the top of their game.

“We need to do the things we’ve been doing,” he said. “We will want to run some traps, and we will try to press them a little. They have a couple guards that can really shoot, but we’ve heard they don’t handle the ball as well bringing it up the court.

“We need to take advantage, get some turnovers and some easy baskets.”

Plateau Valley has struggled against other competition in the league, most recently falling to Western Slope front-runner Paoni, 57-12, to cap a four-game losing streak.

Soroco’s boys, meanwhile, will try to improve on their 6-4 record. Last time on the floor, the Rams were routed by Meeker, one of the best teams in Class 2A and a favorite to make it deep in the state tournament. Still, the Rams have won six of their past eight games.

Plateau Valley enters the game, 7-6. It lost to Meeker in the same way Soroco did, then slipped again a day later with a 56-54 loss at home against Paonia. The team has lost five of its past seven.

Tigers girls look to right ship against North Park

The Hayden girls basketball team handled North Park when the two teams met earlier this season, winning by four in the Cowboy Shootout tournament in Meeker to open the season.

That doesn’t mean a whole lot to coach Eric Hamilton, however, and he said the Tigers (9-4) will need to be at their best if they’re to avoid a two-game losing streak tonight as they visit Walden to face North Park. The game starts at 5:30 p.m.

“North Park, they’re well-coached and they’re having a good year,” Hamilton said. “That first game was tough. Neither team looked very sharp.”

The key, he said, will be slowing the Wildcats’ top guard. That task will fall to senior Calla Manzanares.

After that, he said Hayden needs to focus on its own strengths. So far, this season that has been all about pounding the ball inside, where the Tigers typically have a nice size advantage thanks to sisters Rachael Koehler, a senior, and Erin Koehler, a sophomore.

Hayden returns to the court at 4 p.m. Saturday for a home game against Rangely, making this weekend’s stretch critical.

“I keep telling our team these are two key games,” Hamilton said. “If we want a chance to win the league championship, we have to take care of business this weekend.”

Hayden’s boys (9-4) are in a similar do-or-die situation with regard to retaining any hope of claiming their own Western Slope League title.

The North Park boys team has struggled all season, not­ching just one win against a varsity team. That game starts at 4 p.m. today in Walden.

Rangely, on the other hand, has put together several strong streaks, winning four in a row before losing last weekend at West Grand. The Tigers boys host Rangely at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

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