Rams rout Tigers in rivalry matchup

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The Soroco High School boys basketball team’s focus was narrow after its game Saturday, a 69-26 rout of intra-country rival Hayden.

Coach Jake Eskridge said the Rams were thinking bigger than their tournament performance, a 2-1 showing and an overall fifth-place finish, a big step up from last year’s 0-3 stint in the same event, albeit against different competition.

They were thinking bigger than three games, but they were thinking smaller than their age-old rivarly against Hayden and the dominance the Tigers have had in that series, pounding Soroco annually in recent years.

Instead, Soroco’s focus fell somewhere in between. They were happy with their weekend, happy to beat their rival, but focused on their season.

“This was another step,” Eskridge said. “This was just another step in getting to where we want to go this year. As far as improving every day, we met that goal this weekend.”

The scoreboard would certainly agree with that sentiment. Soroco bounced back from an overtime loss in the weekend’s first game to win their final two in resounding fashion.

Saturday, that meant a lopsided loss for Hayden, which is still reeling from a spat of injuries that sidelined what in the preseason was anticipated to be five of the team’s top seven players.

The game was close in the first half, Hayden even leading 8-4 early. Dan Engle scored 12 for the Tigers, and Thomas Rauch had 11. Only two other players scored, however. Soroco stumbled on offense in the first half but took off once it applied a press and never looked back.

“Our half-court defense was really pretty good in the first half,” Hayden coach Mike Luppes said. “We did see some big improvements in the last few days.”

The Rams broke the game open in the third quarter, scoring 26 points. Eric Logan got hot from three-point range and scored 12 in the period. He had 26 in the game to lead all scorers.

Ryan Jeep had 19 and was named the tournament’s most valuable player. Chance Beaty scored seven for the Rams.

“We played well,” Eskridge said. “We didn’t start out too well, but we changed into that press to pick up the pace and that’s what we really needed.”

Next up for the teams? Another game against each other, Friday night in Hayden.

“I don’t know if we can do anything different in a week,” Luppes said. “We’ll work on some things and try to limit our turnovers. We are trying to get better every game.”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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