It came down to the last shot, but Hayden's rebounding domination in the first half was enough to shrug off the West Grand Mustangs, 47-44, on Friday night.
The Tiger girls grabbed 20 offensive rebounds in the first half alone, scoring on many second, third and fourth opportunities.
The day before the game, the Hayden girls practiced rebounding with a giant pad borrowed from the football team, Tigers' coach Jayme Adams explained.
"We've been working on getting stronger underneath the basket," Adams said. "We've been working on post moves like the drop step, and it seems it's been working. In this game, they were grabbing rebounds even with other players hanging on to them."
Hayden's Jamie Waugh had a simpler explanation: "I think (West Grand) just forgot to go up and rebound," she said.
Waugh grabbed seven offensive rebounds and 10 overall. She also led the team in points with 18, including all eight points scored in the third quarter. Alycia Boyd also was strong in crashing the boards, grabbing 12 rebounds and scoring 14 points.
The Tigers started the game with a fury that stayed with them the entire game. Playing tough defense often forced the Mustangs into situations that led to hasty passes, forced shots and turnovers.
The Tigers led 27-16 at halftime. West Grand coach Scott Terryberry said allowing the Tigers to take 37 shots kept his team from closing in.
"I told them in the locker room that you can't do that and expect to win," Terryberry said. "We should have won hands down, but we've been notorious this year for slow starts. You have to give credit to Hayden. They made the shots they needed, and they shot their free throws."
The Mustangs did close in, however, in the third quarter. They came within two points when Lora Mannon scored a short-range jumper at the buzzer.
"We didn't slow down to play our game," Hayden's Kim Medvesk said.
"We started trying to fast break every play," Waugh added.
The Mustangs then tied the game with 2:52 left in the fourth. But two clutch free throws from Boyd and a jump shot from Millie Hellyer brought Hayden's lead back to four points. West Grand later answered with a 3-pointer, but two free throws from Medvesk and two late steals from Whitney Bell were enough to win the game for the Tigers.
The victory brings Hayden's season record to 3-10 overall and 2-3 in league play. West Grand falls to 4-9, 1-4.
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