Hayden's Alycia Boyd came to the high school gym at about noon Saturday and practiced shooting. Practicing on her own isn't out of the ordinary, but the solo preparation fine-tuned her shot enough to score a game-high 21 points, 18 of which came in the first half.
Boyd and the rest of the Tigers squad looked like a totally different team in their 58-34 victory over the Plateau Valley Cowboys, compared to their last home performance against Soroco, in which the Tigers lost by three points. And, coming off an embarrassing 23-60 loss to North Park on Friday night helped the Tigers realize their faults.
"Whenever you play a team like that, you're going to get better," Hayden coach Jayme Adams said.
The Tigers learned their lesson from North Park and used it against Plateau Valley, as they built an eight-point lead in the first quarter and expanded their lead to as many as 25 points. Several points came after Hayden girls dove after loose balls and fought for steals and rebounds.
"If there's a loose ball on the floor, it's ours," said Boyd, who grabbed two steals of her own and also a game high nine rebounds.
The girls often practice going after loose balls. Adams will roll the ball down the court and have two players simultaneously dive after it, Hayden's Jamie Waugh said, pointing to two "permanent" bruises on her elbows.
"They're always on the floor," Adams said. "That's one thing I'm really proud of."
The Hayden girls played excellent in the first half, as Boyd and Waugh sank basket after basket. Waugh finished the game with 12 points and five rebounds. Whitney Bell also played well, scoring seven points including a 3-pointer.
The Cowboys, on the other hand, had a difficult time scoring and holding on to the ball. Several began shaking their heads with frustrated looks on their faces.
Plateau Valley coach Evonne Stites said lack of experience led to many missed baskets. The team is made mostly of freshmen and sophomores.
"Almost always, there are at least two freshmen on the floor," Stites said. "It's tough with inexperience, but they're hard workers. They never quit. But I'm surprised with what (Hayden) brought to the court today."
The Cowboys did not quit, as they matched the Tigers point for point in the third quarter. But the Tigers sealed the victory in the fourth quarter, thanks to solid defense, including three steals from Millie Hellyer.
With the victory, the Tigers improve their record to 2-6 overall, 1-1 in league play.
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