Steamboat Springs The Hayden girls basketball team opened the season in strong fashion before running into a 2A wall otherwise known as North Park at the Meeker Tournament.
In the season opener, Hayden was pitted against Meeker's JV squad and coach Donny Rolando said his team took control and never let up en route to a 75-38 win.
Sophomore Kayla Kostur had 28 points. Senior Adriana Svoboda had 23 and sophomore Whitney Bell contributed 16 points.
As much as Rolando enjoyed opening the season with an easy team to help build team confidence, he hated seeing North Park in the second day of the three-day tournament.
The No. 2-ranked Wildcats defeated the Tigers 66-35, as Hayden labored to create much offense against the much taller North Park squad.
"Defensively, we did a pretty good job considering what we were up against," Rolando said. "They didn't get many easy buckets. We battled with them but we were so overmatched. We couldn't contain them. We wanted to keep the score in the 50s, but it was pretty much a struggle for anything offensively."
Rolando said North Park defeated every team in the tournament by 30 points, and despite the fact that Limon, with standout player Kylee O'Dwyer, is at the top of the 2A state rankings, Rolando isn't so sure that's accurate.
"I'd have to see that to believe it," he said. "North Park is the complete package."
In the final day of the tournament, Hayden met Baggs, Wyo., and though it wasn't as lopsided a defeat, it was a loss nonetheless. But Rolando is confident his girls will play Baggs much tougher the second time around.
"I think the girls were bummed about the night before and we got off to a slow start," Rolando said. "We pulled to within two in the third, but fatigue was a factor and we fell apart in the fourth."
Hayden meets Baggs again on Friday in Wyoming, Rolando is confident the game will play out much differently.
"We really match up well with Baggs," he said. "The next two games we play them will be pretty even, and I think we can win Friday."
Through the first three games, Rolando said he is pleased with several aspects of his team's play, particularly its defensive presence, but is displeased with its rebounding efforts.
With the size disadvantage Hayden has, the Tigers must want the basketball more than the other team.
"Offensively, this is a new team and a new group of kids," Rolando said. "Most weren't on varsity last year. We have a bunch of sophomores trying to pick all this up and still be competitive. It will be tough in the early going, but I truly think with the talent we have that by the end of the season we'll be there."
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