Rams running toward 2 seed | SteamboatToday.com

Rams running toward 2 seed

Soroco blows by West Grand, Hayden with lopsided wins

Soroco's Grace Olinger drives around the Hayden defense Saturday. The Rams ran away with a big win, 85-36.

— Soroco High School senior DaKota Bruner pulled up from deep early in Saturday's home girls basketball game against Hayden, as she's done so many times in her high school career, and as it's done so many times in that career, the ball swished through the net.

That 3-point shot put Bruner at 1,000 points for her high school career. It was the first of many Ram shots to follow a similar arc as Soroco ran it up on the Hayden Tigers, winning 85-36.

The win capped a weekend in which Soroco greatly strengthened its hold on second place in the Western Slope League. Soroco beat West Grand 63-50 Friday, a victory that gave the Rams a key leg up on the Mustangs and the other teams vying for second.

"That was a heck of a game," coach David Bruner said. "It was a big win for us."

The goal at this point for the Rams is that second-place spot in the district, behind Paonia, undefeated and No. 1 in the state and the winner against Soroco, 64-57, in a game last month.

Three games stand between Soroco and that goal.

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It will play Friday at Plateau Valley, 3-9 overall and 2-5 in the league. The Rams then play a day later at Lake County, 5-10, in a non-league or district game. The biggest hurdle is a Feb. 17 home game against Meeker, 9-6 and 5-1.

Winning out would lock the Rams in as the second seed in the district tournament, making a district championship showdown likely. Finishing either first or second in the district, then, would give Soroco a strong seed in the ensuing regional tournament and could pave the way for a trip to state.

That's a long string of "if this, then that" events but one that's starting to come into focus for the Rams.

"We're getting better every practice and every game, which is what we need to do," Bruner said.

Winning Friday and Saturday against West Grand and Hayden was a key first step, and Soroco did that with plenty of room to spare.

It didn't help the Tigers that four of their six top rotation players missed most of the week with the flu or that two of those six — seniors Grace Wilkie and Darian Murphy — were out entirely for Saturday's game.

That was only some of the problem, however.

"It was a pathetic display of basketball. It was not good," coach Michelle Wilkie said, refusing to comment further.

Hannah Wilkie and Alex Camilletti each scored seven to lead Hayden.

A tremendous shooting performance from the Rams kept things from being close. Soroco drained 16 3-point shots, a record for this year's team.

DaKota Bruner hit her first, the one that put her at 1,000 career points, early in the first quarter. She followed up with five more in the second half, including four in the third quarter. She ended the night with 22 points, as did sophomore Chloe Veilleux, who hit five 3-pointers of her own. Kayla Wille hit two, and Grace Olinger, Charlee Veilleux and Morgan George each added one.

"That's the way we play," David Bruner said. "We shoot a lot of 3s, and we have a lot of girls who can shoot them. We're not as big, so we have to do that."

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9