Soroco's Jacey Schlegel tries to drive around a Paonia defender Saturday. That didn't happen too often, the Eagles ratcheting up their full-court defense to force turnovers throughout the game. Although the Rams kept the score close early and reasonable throughout, they fell 62-43.
Steamboat Springs Two losses doesn’t make for much of a weekend, but the Soroco High School girls basketball team emerged from Saturday’s 62-43 loss to Class 2A powerhouse Paonia with a unique sense of confidence.
“We know what we need to work on now,” senior Lindsay Miles said. “We have to make our shots, the easy shots, and we can’t turn it over so much.”
The Rams couldn’t hang with Hayden on Friday night and things didn’t get much easier Saturday against the Eagles, who have been one of the state’s most consistently excellent teams in recent years.
A scathing full-court press and across-the-roster athleticism have been Paonia’s calling cards in that stretch, and it was those traits that made the difference Saturday. The Eagles pressured Soroco into turnover after turnover, picking off passes long and short and turning them into points with regularity.
Nine players scored for Paonia, which regularly subbed whole new lineups from a bench so deep there were barely enough chairs.
“They have two sets of teams sitting on the bench and they can all come in and play at the varsity level,” Miles said. “It’s hard. They have a great defense.”
But Soroco took pride in hanging in the game. The Eagles built a 5-point lead by the end of the first quarter and quickly pushed it to 9 in the second. Miles nailed a 3-point shot then was immediately fouled. She added one of the free throws to pull her team within 5.
Paonia stretched the lead later in the game, but Soroco was within eyesight again midway through the fourth quarter, down 13.
“We missed a lot of free throws and some easy layups. You have to hit those to be at a higher echelon like Paonia,” Soroco coach David Bruner said. “But we did have those chances. We played better this weekend than we have all year, even though we got two losses. The final step is making those shots.”