Rams can only get better | SteamboatToday.com

Rams can only get better

— After a season filled with low points, Soroco boys basketball coach Andy Johnson spent most of his off-season looking for a silver lining to his squad’s 1-18 showing last year.

“We improved every game,” Johnson said. “By the end of the year we were a lot more competitive with teams that had blown us out earlier in the year.”

The Rams longtime coach also found some inspiration in the knowledge that his young team, which has one of just four senior boys in the entire school, will return with a lot more experience when the season opens on

Nov. 30.

“We are still pretty young,” Ram William Ford said. Ford came off the bench last year as a freshman and should step into a starting role this season for Soroco.

“We are way ahead of where we were last year,” Ford said. “We know the offense, all we need to do is execute it in our games.”

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On Tuesday night, roughly 20 players were hard at work learning a new defense and preparing for the opening game of the season on the dark hardwood floor of the Oak Creek gym.

Included in that group were one senior and five junior players who paid their dues in last year’s turbulent season. The remaining players were all sophomores and freshmen.

“I started three freshmen last year,” Johnson said. “So, we will have some players returning this season that have been out there before and know what is going on.”

But, once again, the Rams will be one of the youngest teams in the league. Three of Johnson’s top players, C.J. Remick, Korey Babcock and Ford, are all sophomores. Senior Casey Means and junior Justin Spaeth will lead the younger Rams on the court. But that doesn’t mean that the younger Rams will be green this season, either.

“We took our lumps last year,” Johnson said. “We didn’t win a lot of games, but we had some real positive things happen toward the end of the year. I’ve got a great group of kids who just never give up.”

Johnson was glad to see his young players, some of them three years’ younger than the guys they were going up against, start to hold their own in league games.

He also said the attitude remained positive the whole year and that his players never really got down on themselves.

“We definitely have a never say die attitude,” Ford said. “That’s the way we play basketball.”

Ford and his teammates are looking for more positive results in league play this year.

Johnson says he thinks West Grand and Grand Valley will be the class of the league. But the other four teams (including Soroco) should be pretty close to one another.

“It’s pretty wide open this year,” Johnson said. “Some of the other teams in our league will be in the same boat we were last year. It should be a much more level playing field.”

The coach said his team needs to do a better job of taking care of the ball this season and he will be stressing defense.

The Rams will open the season on Nov. 30 at the De Beque tournament. Soroco, De Beque, Nucla and Plateau Valley will play in the round-robin tournament.

“I think we have a little different outlook on our season this time around,” Ford said. “We should be OK.”