Soroco junior Nic Paxton looks into the lane for sophomore Ryan Jeep on Wednesday during a basketball practice in Oak Creek. The Rams begin their season Dec. 1 at home against North Park.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Soroco junior Nic Paxton looks into the lane for sophomore Ryan Jeep on Wednesday during a basketball practice in Oak Creek. The Rams begin their season Dec. 1 at home against North Park.

Soroco boys basketball look to rebound

Rams eye improvement in 2011-12

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— The goals aren’t tangible, at least not yet.

The Soroco High School boys basketball team, coming back from a bruising 4-15 campaign a year ago, hasn’t set a goal to reach the state playoffs. The squad doesn’t have a win number in mind, and it hasn’t circled games against any rival.

The goals, the Rams said, are there, but they’re much simpler and far larger than any number, date or on-court achievement.

“We just want to improve as much as we can,” sophomore center Ryan Jeep said. “We don’t want to lose games. We want to make other teams beat us if we’re going to lose.

“We need to be more of a team, gel a little more and go out and play hard.”

Jeep, like many of the Rams, will be in line for an expanded role this season. Virtually every player can expect a new or altered role.

Junior Nic Paxton returns to a guard position. He led the squad in scoring as a sophomore, pulling in 10.7 points per game as he shouldered ball-handling duties, as well.

This year, he’ll likely give up the point guard duties to junior Cody McCollum and shift to the shooting guard position.

The team graduated its second and third scorers, including center Leif Carlson, who scored 9.7 points per game and led the team in rebounds by a huge margin. That’s where Jeep hopes to figure in. He played sparingly last year, missing much of the season with a broken arm, but at 6-foot-5, he should figure in more significantly this winter.

“He’s going to be solid in the middle,” coach Sam McLeod said. “He has pretty good touch around the basket and definitely has a good head for the game.”

Sophomore Matt Regan, too, should get plenty of opportunity. He scored 5.5 points per game a year ago, and McLeod said his sharp shooting eye would be important this season.

“He’s a solid ball handler, but really, he’s a shooter,” McLeod said. “He’s young, but he’ll have to step up and play a bigger role this year.”

The team hopes to play a more up tempo style than it did a year ago during a one-year break in McLeod’s seven-year reign, though. Playing to the athletes the team has, it figures to be more dependent on shooting than it was in McLeod’s previous tenure.

The Rams are hoping for a fast start to their season, which begins Dec. 1 at home against North Park, the team that accounted for 50 percent of Soroco’s victories a year ago.

After that, though, there are no projections or plans. They just want to get better.

“We’re going to grow as the season goes. If we have all our pieces in place, we have a solid team,” McLeod said. “We have some good guards and some solid inside play. We are going to be able to compete with anybody.”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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