Steamboat Springs Don’t be fooled by the lopsided scores from the regular season, Meeker High School girls coach Greg Chintala insists, the Cowboys’ games against Soroco were much closer.
Meeker — at 17-2 and undefeated in league play — is the No. 5 team in all of 2A girls hoops and downed the Rams by 18 points Dec. 6 and 29 points Jan. 31. But Chintala has as much respect for Soroco as he does any of the other teams his Cowboys went through in 2013-14.
“Those two games we won against Soroco, the score was not indicative of what the games were like,” Chintala said. “Both games were much closer than those scores were. There at the end we pulled away. They are a good squad. They move the ball very well, and they can score in bunches.”
And fourth-seeded Soroco is rolling better than it has all season during the past month. The Rams are 5-1 in February with their only loss a one-point defeat at Plateau Valley. Soroco has a chance to improve to 6-1 this month and secure a bid in its district championship game Saturday with a win against the top-seeded Cowboys.
Those looking for a high-scoring affair might just find it in Oak Creek on Friday. Soroco is averaging 60 points per game as a team with three players averaging double figures in DaKota Bruner, Jacey Schlegel and Jessica Rossi. Briana Peterson was averaging 16 points per game but has been out as of late.
Meeker is led by Sydney Hughes’ 15 points per game and Taylor Neilson’s 12 points per contest. Aly Ridings is scoring almost 10 points per game, too.
Chintala said his squad also relies heavily on its leadership with seven seniors on the floor, making usually tough road contests — like Friday’s matchup in Soroco’s home gym — a little more comfortable.
“We’re very experienced,” Chintala said. “I’ve got two kids who are four-year starters and my other three starters — I ran a 10 person rotation the last couple years — they were key players since they were freshmen and sophomores.”
Tip off for No. 4 Soroco against No. 1 Meeker is at 3 p.m.
Sand Creek boasts stout home court advantage
Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball isn’t just facing a stiff road test in the second round of the state playoffs.
Sand Creek puts an extra emphasis on protecting its home court. So when the Scorpions lost to rival Pueblo West at home Feb. 15 by two points — their first home court loss in three years — Sand Creek coach Joe Rausch said his team took it hard.
“The kids make it important to themselves,” Rausch said. “It bothered them a lot to lose to Pueblo West. My seniors hadn’t lost since they were sophomores here. It was a bit of a wake-up call for us.”
A much-needed wake-up call, he said, after his leading scorer Dylan Clark, an Air Force point guard commit, battled an ankle injury. The Scorpions lost three of their five games in 2013-14 in February but still are the No. 2 seed in the Guy Gibbs Region.
But Clark is back, and Rausch said a first-round bye in the state playoffs allowed his point guard — who is averaging 20 points per game — to get some rest heading into Friday’s 8 p.m. tipoff.
Sand Creek, however, isn’t counting itself part of the Final Four in Boulder already. Rausch said Steamboat presents some things that have given the Scorpions trouble this year — such as size with 6-foot-9 Sailors center Garrett Bye and a heavy mix of outside shooters in Zach Dunklin, Matthew Lanning and Carter Kounovsky.
The Scorpions want to push the pace, their coach said, against a Sailors team that grinds opponents down with defense and timely shooting.
“It’s not every day you get a seven seed coming in with 18 wins,” Rausch said. “We haven’t even bothered to look ahead to Saturday. We know we have a tough one" with Steamboat.
To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll