Saturday, January 17, 2004
Hayden Tigers fans stood and clapped with more enthusiasm than usual Saturday night. They were watching an entertaining performance that demanded respect.
The Tigers played solid defense, blocking multiple shots and barraging the Plateau Valley Cowboys with steals. Chris Frentress had three steals in the first quarter alone. It was the Tigers' offense, however, that made an impression in their 64-50 victory.
"They killed us in the first quarter," Plateau Valley's top scorer Will Keller said after scoring 29 points. "Eighteen points down is hard to come back from."
In the paint, Hayden's Keenan Bruchez scored six quick points, as did Evan Hilling. Dustin Driscoll also scored six points in the first quarter but from behind the three-point line.
"Our offense was working good," Driscoll said. "We slowed down, took our time, and set picks to get open shots."
But as the Tigers' confidence rose with the points, their patience slipped momentarily. The Cowboys came back to within two points in the second quarter, led by Keller. Just before the buzzer, Hayden point guard Cam Whiteman sank a basket for a six-point lead at halftime.
"We weren't getting back and rotating on defense," Hayden coach Shawn Baumgartner said. "We weren't playing man to man, and we got flustered when they started hitting their shots."
After settling down at halftime, the Tigers expanded their lead to nine in the third quarter. They built a lead as high as 16 in the fourth. Many of Hayden's points came from the free-throw line, as the Cowboys fouled in a desperate effort to slow the clock and game tempo. They failed to convert on several three-point shots in the final two minutes.
When asked what set this Hayden team apart from the previous year, Keller said he thought the team had better coaching. Even though Baumgartner was Hayden's coach last year, in a sense, he agreed with Keller.
"The guys are finally understanding what we want out of them," Baumgartner said. "Overall communication is just better."
Hayden lost to North Park, 35-51, on Friday night, and with the victory Saturday night, Hayden's season record stands at 7-3 overall, 1-1 in league play.
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