Hayden girls trounce Plateau Valley, 59-37

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— Donald Rolando challenged his Hayden girls basketball team to take control of a league game against Plateau Valley from the tip-off.

The Tigers responded by blowing out the visiting Cowboys 59-37. The game was pretty much in hand before the third quarter began.

The Tigers used a suffocating defense and got a spectacular performance by senior point guard Natalie McDonald.

McDonald scored 19 points in the first half to lead the Tigers to a 36-8 lead after two periods of play.

The Tigers' defense held the Cowboys to six points in the first quarter and two points in the second.

"The girls came out and played good defense," Rolando said. "We knew we had to. I was really happy with the effort.

"We knew they had a long bus ride here. I wanted the girls to come out strong and get the game over by halftime. We were able to accomplish that."

McDonald played sparingly in the second half and finished with 21 points.

Gary Winkleblack, the Cowboys coach, praised McDonald's performance.

"We had trouble dealing with her," Winkleblack said. "She is a tremendous player."

The Cowboys tried to fight back in the second half but got no closer than 20 points.

"We dug ourself a hole," Winkleblack said. "That has been the story of our season."

Leading the Cowboys in scoring was junior Kelli Kirkpatrick, who had nine points.

The Tigers, who are the defending Western Slope League champions, needed to win the game.

The Tigers came into the game with a 3-5 overall record and 0-2 in the league.

"It was a critical game," Rolando said. "We can't afford to lose anymore league games, especially at home."

The Cowboys dropped to 0-6 on the season and 0-2 in league play.

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