Soroco girls eyeing Friday shot at No. 1 — High school roundup Jan. 12 to 14 | SteamboatToday.com

Soroco girls eyeing Friday shot at No. 1 — High school roundup Jan. 12 to 14

Soroco's Morgan George swats the ball away from a North Park players last week as the Rams cruised to an easy win. Nothing will be easy Friday as the team heads to Paonia, the No. 1 team in the state.

Soroco girls basketball

5:30 p.m. Friday Soroco (7-1) at Paonia (8-0)

The clash between the Rams and the Eagles makes for the most interesting matchup of the weekend. Soroco has been in the midst of perhaps the school's best ever girls basketball run for the last two years, but both seasons have ended in the regional championship with losses against Paonia.

Now, the two teams are back in the same league. Undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the state, the Eagles have firm control, but Soroco would love to supplant them. The Rams have that opportunity Friday.

It goes without saying it won’t be easy. Paonia's top-five leading scorers are all seniors, and those players are returning from a team that was runner-up at the state tournament a year ago. They have some height, have always played aggressive defense and average second in Class 2A in the state in points per game, scoring an average of 60.5 every night.

What chance does Soroco have? The Rams rank first in Class 2A in points per game at 63.4 per outing.

Soroco boys basketball

7 p.m. Friday Soroco (1-6) at Paonia (7-1)

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The Rams got off the mat and won their first game last week. Picking up a second win this weekend is an even tougher task.

Paonia is ranked third in the state in Class 2A. The team's led by Dagan Rienks, averaging a double-double with 24.0 points per game and 10.6 rebounds.

Winning seems like a long shot for the Rams, but playing competitively doesn’t have to be. Soroco seemed down and out last weekend against North Park but bounced back late to knock off the Wildcats. That took some deep digging and showed the team at its best, and it's an attitude the team needs to hang onto as it charges into the heart of the league schedule.

Soroco wrestling

Saturday Soroco at Rangely tournament

The Rams are coming off one of their most complete meets of the season where they had two wrestlers win their brackets and another finish second. They'll try to keep that momentum going on Saturday in a meet likely full of regional competition as they travel to Rangely.

Steamboat boys basketball

7:30 p.m. Friday Steamboat (5-5) vs. Grand Junction-Central (7-4)

1 p.m. Saturday Steamboat at Fruita Monument (5-8)

The Sailors dialed up their defense to get a win Tuesday against Battle Mountain in their Western Slope League opener, but Steamboat was left with plenty to work on. The Sailors didn't shoot any kind of shot well and were particularly bad at free throws. It worked out, but it's a habit the team would best avoid, and it can start doing that this weekend with a Grand Junction-area road trip.

Central's a good, deep senior-laden team. Kyle Blair leads the squad with 16 points a game, but he's one of four who average more than eight per game.

Fruita Monument has lost seven of its last eight. That's a decidedly winnable game for the Sailors. Friday's, however, will take a more special performance.

Some clutch free-throw shooting would certainly make both much easier.

Steamboat girls basketball

6 p.m. Friday Steamboat (0-10) vs. Grand Junction-Central (6-6)

1 p.m. Saturday Steamboat at Grand Junction (0-9)

"Inconsistent" is typically a semi-nice way of saying "not very good" and though they played tough against a strong Battle Mountain team at times on Tuesday night, the Sailors weren't consistent.

Hope lies in the improvement of the Sailors' supporting cast surrounding leading scorer Raya Duryea. There are without a doubt talented athletes there, though perhaps not overly experienced varsity basketball players.

That second part is what's shown the most early this season, but eventually, the first part will become more obvious. Those players will continue to grow more comfortable in their roles, and the Sailors will win a game no one's expecting.

Winning Saturday’s game at Grand Junction, also winless, would be a huge boost for the squad and is one of the team’s best opportunities at this point of the season.

Steamboat wrestling

Saturday Steamboat at Evergreen

The regional tournament is still about a month away, but it's looming in the mind of Steamboat coach Travis Bryant. He said after last weekend's performance in an Eagle Valley tournament, his squad will need to improve if it wants to have success at that regional tournament. It will definitely get the chance in Evergreen, where it will see plenty of regional competition.

Hayden boys basketball

7 p.m. Friday Hayden (0-6) vs. Vail Christian (2-6)

5:30 p.m. Saturday Hayden at Paonia (7-1)

The Tigers will be searching for their first win of the season this weekend, and their best chance to get it may come Friday at home against Vail Christian.

It’ll take a big-time offensive effort to play the Saints close. Vail Christian is averaging 47 points per game whereas Hayden hasn’t scored more than 32 in a game this season.

It's felt like Hayden's a team making progress early this season. This may not be the weekend they progress all the way to a win, but, especially Friday, the opportunity to take some steps does exist.

Hayden girls basketball

7 p.m. Friday Hayden (2-6) vs. Vail Christian (5-3)

4 p.m. Saturday Hayden at Paonia (8-0)

A couple of close games got away from the Tigers last weekend and turned into two lopsided-looking losses. The potential for "lopsided" may be there again this weekend as Hayden squares off against two of the top teams in the area — Vail Christian and Paonia.

Darian Murphy's led Hayden in scoring this season, pouring in 11.2 points per game. She's got some talented helpers, too, including the Wilkie sisters — Grace, a senior, and Hannah, a freshman, who have both logged a couple of big games, and Kyra Bennett, who missed last weekend's action.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, it would probably take great offensive games from all four of them individually for the Tigers to pull off an upset this weekend. Fortunately, all four have shown they have that in them.

Hayden wrestling

Saturday Hayden at Highland Tournament in Ault

The Tigers are heading down from the mountains and to the plains where they'll run into competition that's always tough. An especially tough test awaits for one of Hayden's top dogs, senior Christian Carson. He beat Highland senior Tony Lucero in the first round of the 2015 state championships but lost to Lucero a year later at the 2016 state meet. Now they're both among the top-ranked wrestlers in the state.

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