70-43 loss in semifinals stuns Hayden girls | SteamboatToday.com

70-43 loss in semifinals stuns Hayden girls

Tigers drop district game to Meeker

Meeker High School senior Janea Kindall tries to get a shot up and around Hayden's Rachael Koehler on Friday in the district tournament in Meeker. The Tigers lost for the second time this season, falling to today's district third-place game.

— The Hayden High School girls basketball team has closed many games this season with its bench players on the court.

But it’s been a long time since the Tigers reserves took the floor like they did Friday night.

Hayden lost its second game of the season, falling in a big way to Meeker High School in the district tournament semifinals at Meeker.

The Cowboys took a big lead early and cruised to a 70-43 rout.

“I don’t know if we were looking past this or what,” Hayden coach Eric Hamilton said. “Meeker was fired up tonight in front of their home crowd. They played a great game.”

Hayden, 19-2, handled the Cowboys easily the first time the teams met this season, then eked out a victory when they clashed again earlier this month.

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The third time was definitely the charm for Meeker and, implementing lessons it learned the hard way, completely dismantled Hayden’s previously vicious attack.

“Last time we played them, we had some success with a man defense in the second half, so we worked on that a lot this week,” Meeker coach Hallie Blunt said. “I wasn’t excepting it to be 30 points, but once we got the tempo where we wanted, I thought (the Tigers) might fall a little bit because they haven’t been behind much at all this year.”

That defense particularly hamstrung seniors Holli Salazar and Kylee Sweetser, two of Hayden’s most reliable sources of points in a dream regular season.

Neither of the Tigers leaders scored in the first quarter, and they finished with a combined 12 points, less than half their usual damage.

Meeker’s lead grew throughout the game at an almost rhythmic pace. The Cowboys led by 6 after the first quarter, then doubled it to 12 by halftime. The gap doubled again by the end of the third quarter as Meeker stretched its lead to 25.

The largest deficit of the game was 32 as the Cowboys picked up scoring from up and down its roster.

Hamilton said one of his team’s goals was to slow Meeker’s Marki Cook. The Tigers were successful in that, limiting the senior to 5 points.

They didn’t have much luck stopping anyone else.

Senior Sydney Cook led all scorers with 23 points. Senior Janae Kindall added 16, and junior Stacey Fitzgibbons scored 14.

Hayden, meanwhile, was led by Salazar’s 8. She scored four field goals. No other Tiger had more than two.

“They had total control of us the whole game,” Hamilton said. “Their pressure was killing us. We weren’t aggressive, didn’t run our offense right, and I don’t know. We didn’t play our Tiger ball.”

The team will advance to the regional tournament no matter what happens in the third-place game at 10 a.m. today against Rangely. But that game suddenly looks like another trap for the Tigers, who, just a day ago, had ambitions of securing the district’s No. 1 seed.

Hayden already has beaten Rangely three times this season. Only one of those was a comfortable win, though. The others were 3-point squeakers, including the team’s most recent clash, a 45-42 game on Jan. 31.

“We just have to come ready to play and keep our heads up,” Hamilton said. “It’s a whole new day. We still get to go on to next week, so we can’t let this ruin us.”

Game statistics

Meeker 70, Hayden 43

Meeker 15-17-21-17 – 70

Hayden 9-11-8-15 – 43

Meeker – McLaughlin 0 1-3 1, Rundberg 0 0-2 0, S.Cook 9 5-5 23, Kindall 6 4-6 16, Kendall 2 0-0 4, Fitzgibbons 6 2-5 14, M.Cook 2 3-3 8, Shriver 0 3-4 3. Totals 25 18-28 70.

Hayden – R.Koehler 2 0-0 4, Salazar 4 0-2 8, E.Koehler 1 0-2 2, Mahanna 2 1-6 3, VeDepo 2 3-7 7, Rolando 1 3-4 5, Woodley 1 0-1 2, Sweetser 1 2-2 4, Harris 1 0-0 2, Bell 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 9-24 43.

3-pointers: Meeker (3) – S.Cook 2, M.Cook.

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