The Steamboat Springs' game plan was to limit Evan Hilling's shots, and in previous years, containing the Hayden junior would have been enough for the Sailors' JV team to pull out a win.
Hayden (11-4) defeated Steamboat's JV, 48-28, on Tuesday, despite getting just five points from Hilling. In Hilling's previous two games against the Sailors (6-7 overall), he scored a combined 57 points.
Limiting Hilling's touches, as well as containing senior Dustin Driscoll, was the focus of Steamboat's defense Tuesday, Sailors coach Chris Adams said. Hilling and Driscoll scored a combined 12 points, as the Sailors' defense -- most notably freshman Tanner Stillwell -- made sure someone was in their faces at all times.
However, this year's Hayden team has found other guys to carry the offensive load, and Tuesday it was junior Chris Frentress who had 15 points.
"Our focus was stopping Evan and Dustin," Adams said. "Frentress played great for them. Us focusing on Evan and Dustin opened things up for him, and he did a good job attacking."
Tigers coach Shawn Baumgartner said Frentress has stepped up since Christmas, and the improved play of Frentress and junior Cam Whiteman at the guard positions has helped Hayden enjoy a successful season.
"I think they feel more comfortable," Baumgartner said. "They know the system and where our guys are going to be."
But Baumgartner wasn't pleased with the way Hayden came to play in the first half of Tuesday's game. Poor execution and forced perimeter shots contributed to a closer game than anyone on the Tigers' bench had planned on.
"We were shooting a lot of three's and weren't making them," Whiteman said. "In the second half, we started executing a lot better."
Patience on offense and a heavy rebounding advantage on either end of the court helped the Tigers push a 19-15 halftime lead to a more comfortable 16 points by the end of the third before Hayden went on to win by 20.
"I was proud of our kids' effort," Adams said. "Physically, they were stronger in the second half and it showed."
Leading the way offensively for the Sailors was junior Collin Hare with 11 points. Junior Patrick Weber chipped in with 8 for Steamboat, as well.
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