Rams girls hoops young but loaded with talent

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— Having just one senior on a 15-girl varsity basketball roster usually spells trouble in the leadership department. Returning three of the top scorers from a team that went 14-6 the previous season would be a big bonus.

Soroco High School girls basketball coach David Bruner has both scenarios on his plate with the 2013-14 season just around the corner.

“I have three girls coming back who started more than half the time for me last year,” the sixth-year Rams coach said. “But the lack of depth with the seniors (makes for) a lot of inexperience at the varsity level.”

That said, there is a level of optimism in the Soroco gym. The Rams aren’t rebuilding after losing six seniors to graduation; they are reloading.

Back for Bruner is junior Jessica Rossi, last year’s leading scorer at 10 points per game. Right behind Rossi is sophomore Briana Peterson, who turned in 9 points per game but tore her ACL in the final game of the year. Peterson had her knee surgically repaired the week following the loss and was cleared fully on Nov. 1 for action.

Jacey Schlegel is Soroco’s lone senior, and she’s no stranger to varsity competition. Schlegel has been a mainstay for the Rams since she was a freshman and has been among the team’s scoring leaders since her sophomore campaign.

Bruner said this year is the tallest team he’s ever had with a few girls on his roster pushing 6 feet. The key, though, in keeping up with perennial league powers like Paonia and Meeker would have to come in the form of speed on both ends of the court.

“We’re going to go up and down the floor and have a fast-paced game,” Bruner said. “Defensively, we want to press to get easy baskets off that.”

The Rams’ leaders may be separated by age – from sophomores to seniors – but don’t question their bond. Schlegel said the team has as many as six leaders, and age isn’t a factor.

“Our team is pretty much like my family,” Schlegel said. “We all get along really well. There are no problems. I’m looking forward to our teamwork.”

Soroco will be tested early. Bruner and the Rams open up in the Meeker Shootout Dec. 5 against Nucla, which returns all five starters, and Meeker, which went 21-3 last year. The team’s first home game is Dec. 10 against North Park.

It’s not exactly crowded at the top of the 2A/1A Western Slope League, Bruner said, with Paonia and Meeker standing out as the teams to beat. The remaining 10 teams after that are essentially a toss up.

“It will depend on who learns the fastest, and (which team’s) younger kids will step up and make an impact,” Bruner said.

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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