By CONOR NICHOLL
Horton senior Maliyah Soto has enjoyed previous success in cross country, basketball and track.
This winter, Soto has put together a pair of impressive early season games. In the first two contests, Soto averaged 20 points, nine rebounds, 3.5 blocks, three assists and three steals a contest. Soto had scored more than half of her team’s points in that stretch. She is the team’s only senior.
In a season-opening 40-35 win versus Pleasant Ridge, Soto had 22 points on 9 of 16 shooting on Dec. 3. She collected eight rebounds, six assists, five blocks and two steals.
On Dec. 7, she finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds in a 36-24 loss to Valley Falls. Horton has opened 1-3 this winter.
Last spring, Soto finished as Class 2A state runner-up in the long jump when she leaped 16 feet, 9 inches. Soto was also a 200-meter state qualifier. She was Horton’s lone state track qualifier. Soto broke the Horton cross country and 100-meter dash records.
Zach Nelson, a former assistant who helped with a nice turnaround at Victoria, is in his second year with the Horton girls program. Last season, Nelson had to quarantine at the beginning of the year. Coach Nelson has an inspiring comeback story. More on coach Nelson can be found here:
Horton eventually finished 8-10 and opened 1-3, including a Pleasant Ridge loss. Horton had a 41-31 win versus Valley Falls, a 42-41 loss to Jefferson County North, a 35-34 loss to Atchison County and a 34-23 loss to Pleasant Ridge.
Overall, Horton played in a remarkably high number of close games. Horton went 5-5 in games decided by six points or fewer, including 1-2 in one-point games. Those six defeats came by a combined 10 points. Soto is easily the team’s most experienced player this year. Soto and Madison Stirton are the lone returning rotational players. Soto easily paced Horton in scoring as a junior en route to first team all-league honors.