The Hayden Tigers have seen what the Grand Valley squad has, particularly in shooters Chris Johnson and Sam McKinley.
Johnson poured in 16, while the freshman McKinley was held to nine points. Focusing on those two players defensively was an important part of the Tigers' 55-45 win over the Grand Valley Cardinals, Hayden center Keenan Bruchez said.
Thinking back to Hayden's 29-47 loss to Grand Valley earlier this year in the Meeker Tournament, Bruchez said: "We knew they were going to be quick. We knew McKinley was a good shooter, and we knew Johnson was big."
Bruchez single-handedly stopped one of McKinley's shots in the fourth quarter, as he knocked it down from behind.
But settling down offensively is what clinched the victory for the Tigers, Hayden coach Shawn Baumgartner said.
After a good first quarter with the Tigers playing well offensively even against solid defense, Hayden began to crumble in the second quarter, scoring only six points. The usually sharp Evan Hilling even uncharacteristically forced a couple of three-point shots.
The third quarter was better, but the Cardinals cut the lead to two points. In the fourth quarter, the Tigers began firing on all cylinders and pulled away, bringing their lead to 10 points.
"Especially in the fourth quarter, we executed our offense really well," Baumgartner said. "We started making shots when we squared up to the basket, took our time and made the extra pass."
The Tigers fourth quarter run was led by Dustin Driscoll who scored three consecutive jump shots and scored eight points in the quarter.
Team leaders were Hilling with 13 points, Bruchez with 12 points and Driscoll with 10 points.
With the victory and a Friday night 42-54 loss to Meeker, Hayden's record stands at 8-4 overall and 2-2 in the Western Slope League.