Soroco girls basketball team has big plans | SteamboatToday.com

Soroco girls basketball team has big plans

Soroco basketball player DaKota Bruner passes the ball during a practice earlier this season. The Rams will open up the 2014-15 season Thursday night against Caprock Academy.

— There's plenty to look forward to for the Soroco High School girls basketball team.

The squad pushed within one game of the state tournament a year ago — to a regional championship showdown with league rival and eventual state third place finisher Meeker.

The Rams hope to get over that hump this year and to exciting games late in the regular season, such as in the district tournament and, if all goes well, beyond.

Still, Soroco coach David Bruner said he's not worried about his team fixating on those goals for the same reason he's excited about the season's possibilities.

"Not with this group," he said about the team's chances of looking too far ahead. "They're level headed, all of them, so they understand that we take it game by game. Whoever we're playing, we need to prepare for."

Those allegedly level-headed players have shown enough talent in recent seasons to justify some of their excitement.

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Junior forward Briana Peterson has been one of the team's most effective scorers each of her two seasons but had both seasons cut short by knee injuries.

She's back, and in Bruner's assessment, stronger than ever.

Senior Jessica Rossi has been one of the team's tentpoles throughout her career, leading in points each of the last two seasons. She’s back again, despite slamming her finger in a gate on the ranch this week, a complication that will slow, but not stop her from playing early this season.

There is experience all around the court, in senior guard Hayley Johnson, who's played 41 games in the last two seasons, and sophomore guard DaKota Bruner, who led the team with 43 3-pointers as a freshman, 20 more than anyone else.

There's Leah Walorski, a 5-foot-10 senior, junior Kali Constine, an athletic guard, and Morgan George, a sophomore guard, who will miss time early with a case of mononucleosis but could help more in January.

It's a season where, through a Rams’ eyes, the pieces have come together with talented scorers and savvy veterans ready at the right time.

"We've been trying to build a program. This will be my seventh year as head coach and in the last five years we've been really building and getting better," Bruner said. "That says something about the whole program, from third-graders to 12th-graders."

Bruner's wife, Kim Bruner, has overseen the elementary and middle school programs, and David sent plenty of the credit for his deep squad her way.

It all kicks off Thursday for Soroco, playing in Meeker at the Cowboy Shootout against Caprock Academy.

The Rams potentially will see Western Slope rivals there like Hayden and Meeker. A matchup with the Cowboys actually would be Soroco's only one until the district tournament, thanks to a split in the Western Slope schedule this season.

Bruner said the weekend won't be about getting to that matchup, however. Instead, it will be about beating Caprock, another Western Slope foe, and taking it one game at a time until the big goals the team sees are within reach.

"We have go in to play hard every single night because we have the target on our backs now," he said. "We've always been the team that could do in with nothing to lose, but now the girls know they'll get everyone's best shot. That will be a learning experience for us and we'll have to see how they handle it."

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

2014-15 Soroco girls basketball schedule

Dec. 4 at Cowboy Shootout, vs. Caprock Academy

Dec. 5 at Cowboy Shootout

Dec. 6 at Cowboy Shootout

Dec. 19 at Rangely

Dec. 20 vs. South Park

Jan. 9 vs. Hayden

Jan. 10 at West Grand

Jan. 13 vs. Vail Christian

Jan. 17 vs. De Beque

Jan. 19 at Gilpin County

Jan. 24 at Lake County

Jan. 27 at North Park

Jan. 30 at Vail Christian

Jan. 31 vs. West Grand

Feb. 6 at De Beque

Feb. 7 vs. North Park

Feb. 13 at Hayden

Feb. 19 vs. Rangely

Feb. 24, 27-28 at district tournament