Hayden point guard Kyle Woodley is 5-foot-8, but North Park's guards have to be thinking differently.
Spearheaded by Woodley's quick hands and deflected passes on defense, the Tigers got 13 steals and cruised to a 52-35 win against North Park on Saturday.
"Kyle played really well," Hayden coach Shawn Baumgartner said.
The Tigers led by as many as 25 points before Baumgartner began inserting the reserves in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.
Woodley finished with only one steal, but the senior caused a lot of the others. North Park struggled to get into its half-court offense. When the Wildcats got off a shot, it was usually off-balance, off the mark and rebounded by a Tiger.
"I think our defense has been lacking," Baumgartner said. "That's something we've been working on."
Hayden scored transition baskets with relative ease and ran its set plays with success, as well.
Woodley said Saturday's win was one of the better group efforts of this young team.
"It always helps to out-rebound the other team," he said.
The Tigers were too tall and too athletic for the Wildcats, especially when primary scorer Jason Landis picked up his third foul in the second quarter.
Hayden capitalized, outscoring North Park 14-4 in the third quarter.
"That was the best third quarter we've had all year," Baumgartner said.
Hayden junior Bryan Richards finished with a game-high 19 points, including 11 in the first half.
He hit shots from all over the court, and North Park's second-half adjustments on Richards enabled the paint to clear out for senior Keenan Bruchez, who scored 13 off the bench, including nine in the second half. Senior Tyson Letlow added eight points.
The Tigers, who finished with 11 assists, will be a dangerous team in the Class 2A Western Slope League if they limit their turnovers and can score from the wing and inside.
"We aren't quite where we want to be yet," Woodley said.
Hayden wraps up the early-season schedule at 3-3 overall. The Tigers resume play at 8:30 p.m. Jan. 6 against West Grand in Hayden. It will be the league opener.