The Hayden Tigers' defense allowed few easy, inside shots Tuesday, forcing the Little Snake River Valley Rattlers from Baggs, Wyo., to shoot a low percentage of shots. Even when the Rattlers got inside, they missed. But the Rattlers came closer to biting the Tigers from outside.
The Rattlers sunk two buzzer-beater 3-pointers, one banked in about 3 feet behind the arc at halftime and one from almost half court at the end of the third quarter. The Tigers knew they couldn't do anything about it and used a no-looking-back strategy to defeat Little Snake, 53-44.
Hayden led the game.
"That's what I've told the guys," Hayden coach Shawn Baumgartner said. "If we get them to where we've led from the beginning, we'll finish winning."
Defensively, the Tigers were intense, which Baumgartner said also was key in igniting the offense.
"We've really picked up the defensive intensity over the season," Baumgartner said. "We believe that when we play hard-core defense, that's when we get going offensively."
Offensively, the Tigers did what the Rattlers could not -- make a high percentage of shots.
"We've been working on not taking stupid shots," Hayden senior Jared Alpe said. "We've just been focusing on taking our time to run our offense."
And take their time they did. On several offensive runs, all five players on the floor touched the ball. Baumgartner said his players have "grown up" and are constantly looking for the best shooters on the team.
And often times, the team looked to junior shooting guard Evan Hilling, who led the way offensively, scoring 22 points, sinking nine of 16 shots, including four of nine from behind the 3-point line. Hilling also contributed with two blocks and two steals.
"We were really being patient," Hilling said. "We just tried not to force things."
Alpe also contributed 8 points, sinking four of four shots from inside. Dustin Driscoll also scored 8 points, including two 3-pointers.
Frank Arce led the Rattlers offensively with 19 points, including the half-court, nothing-but-net buzzer beater.
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