Soroco's Shelby Meyer breaks free from a gang of Paonia defenders Friday.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Soroco's Shelby Meyer breaks free from a gang of Paonia defenders Friday.

Paonia washes away Soroco girls basketball team

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Soroco's Jacey Schlegel goes up for a layup Friday against Paonia.

2012-13 Rams girls basketball schedule

— The Paonia High School girls basketball team tends to greet most opponents like a baseball bat to the noggin, and on Friday night, the Eagles left Soroco groaning and rubbing its temples.

The Rams said their 74-36 home loss was far from a concussion-inducing experience, however, and said they were focused on emerging Saturday against Hotchkiss as clear eyed and confident as they were entering Friday’s game, when they were one of the biggest surprises in the Western Slope Conference.

“This is really a different group of kids,” Soroco coach David Bruner said.

Through much of Friday’s game, the Eagles shot the ball as though the rim were five feet closer, scooped up Rams passes as though there were three extra players camping in the passing lanes and applied such fierce pressure, such intense heat, that the Soroco players were prone to mistakes simply at the sound of approaching Eagles defenders.

Through sections — most of them early — the Rams matched that intensity, and as halftime approached, Soroco was in the game, attempting to cut the lead to single digits.

Against many teams, that’s not much of an accomplishment. Against the No. 7 Eagles, it would have been huge.

“We really played well in the first half. We were just playing like we can play,” Bruner said. “I really liked the effort from the girls. If they play that hard in every game, we’ll hang with a lot of league teams.”

Paonia changed all that in the second half, hitting the gymnasium like a tsunami. It scored 23 points to Soroco’s nine in the third quarter, ending with emphasis any chance of a close game. By the time the game was winding down, the Rams were trying to stay within 40.

“That’s why they’ve been to state five years in a row,” Bruner said.

Braiden Clement led the Eagles with 16 points, Annavah Kropp had 12 and Carson Pipher had 11.

Soroco was led by Briana Peterson, who had 10. Jessica Rossi chipped in nine.

It wasn’t nearly enough to keep Soroco competitive against one of the state’s best programs, but it was enough to allow the Rams to salvage their pride and head into Saturday’s contest at Palisade still riding a wave of excitement.

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

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