Soroco basketball readies for year |

Soroco basketball readies for year

Western Slope League’s Class 2A up for grabs; Rams prep to make bid

Luke Graham

— There is an interesting thing happening in the Class 2A West­ern Slope League.

Whereas in years past it was easy to pick a favorite, this year's lineup of contenders appears to indicate that the league championship really is up for grabs.

So, why not the Soroco High School boys basketball team?

The Rams return three players who had starting stints last season, they're big across the front court, they have athletic guards, and they finally appear to have some depth off the bench.

"It's not like last year where Meeker was loaded," said new Rams coach Andy Johnson, who takes over for Sam Mc­­Leod. "It's wide open right now. We can be in that mix as long as we improve and our guard play can get better."

The guard play might be the difference in Soroco finishing toward the top third of the league or the bottom third.

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The Rams return 6-foot-5 center Leif Carlson from last year's team and add 6-foot-2 brothers Ben and David Strait, who decided to play basketball instead of wrestle.

Other players taller than 6 feet who are expected to get playing time include Michael Rossi, AJ Anderson and Nic Paxton.

Carlson, who played competitive basketball for the first time last season as a junior, looks like a completely different player. In addition to attending basketball camps, he worked on his jump shot during the offseason.

Now, he's likely to be the focal point of the offense.

"We're more balanced, I'd say," said Carlson, who acknowledged he'll look to score more this season. "Our goal is to finish near the top. It always is. This year, we've got a good shot at that. It's a totally different chemistry than last year."

Carlson, Rossi, Lombardi, Paxton and Anderson are expected to start.

Johnson said he'd like to develop a rotation of eight players by the end of the season. He knows teams will look to stop the Rams' inside game, so there will be more pressure on his guards.

But Rossi, Lombardi and Pax­­ton — who all started at various points of the season last year — should be able to provide some extra scoring punch.

Whether it's enough to remain toward the top of the league is another question. 

"I expect us to come out and be in every game," Lombardi said. "We've got the size, talent, experience and athleticism to stay in every game. It's a lot more up in the air with our league this year. It's not set by any means. We have a lot better chance this year."

Soroco opens the season at 7 p.m. Thursday at North Park.

2010-11 boys schedule

Thursday: 7 p.m. at North Park

Dec. 6: 7:30 p.m. vs. Steamboat JV

Dec. 7: 7 p.m. vs. Moffat County JV

Dec. 18: 4 p.m. at Gilpin County

Jan. 7: 6 p.m. vs. Vail Mountain

Jan. 14: 7 p.m. vs. Rangely

Jan. 15: 5:30 p.m. at Vail Christian

Jan. 21: 6:30 p.m. at Plateau Valley

Jan. 22: 4 p.m. at West Grand

Jan. 28: 7:30 p.m. vs. Hayden

Jan. 29: 4 p.m. at Paonia

Feb. 4: 6 p.m. vs. North Park

Feb. 5: 4 p.m. vs. West Grand

Feb. 8: 5 p.m. vs. Vail Christian

Feb. 11: 8:30 p.m. at Hayden

Feb. 12: 4 p.m. at Meeker

Feb. 18: 6:30 p.m. vs. DeBeque

Feb. 19: 1 p.m. at Vail Mountain

Rams basketball roster

Michael Rossi

Ben Strait

AJ Anderson

Cody McCollum

David Strait

Nic Paxton

Brandyn Leu

Matt Regan

Leif Carlson

Ryan Jeep

Pie Lombardi

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