Last season, an off shooting night and a second-half deficit would have been cause for concern for the Hayden girls basketball team.
This season, both are a reason to be more patient.
Instead of panic, the Tigers showed fourth-quarter poise in coming from behind to beat West Grand, 39-28, on Tuesday.
"Last year, we struggled with getting down," Hayden coach Jayme Adams said. "And then we'd end up losing these games. They are staying mentally tough. This was a good game for us."
Hayden (9-8 overall) held West Grand to 18 second-half points, while scoring 17 of its own in the fourth quarter. All the shots that weren't falling during the first three quarters found their way through the net in the final eight minutes.
Hayden did a much better job taking care of the ball and running the offense through its post players.
At 5-foot-9 and 5-foot-6, respectively, seniors Alycia Boyd and Jamie Waugh aren't the prototypical imposing post presences, but they rebound aggressively and finish well in the paint.
The pair scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter, finishing with a combined 22 points. Boyd scored eight in the second half. Waugh scored eight in the fourth.
"We work really well together," Waugh said. "I enjoy passing it to her."
Senior Whitney Bell added six for Hayden.
Waugh's basket off an offensive rebound with 2 minutes, 30 seconds left in the game gave the Tigers a 32-26 lead. Senior Lauren Branstetter's 3-pointer with a little more than a minute remaining sealed the win for the Tigers.
Konni Winpegler led the Mustangs with 14 points. Holli Palmer added 22.
Hayden's victory against West Grand keeps the Tigers in the hunt for a second-place finish in District 5. Grand Valley has all but locked up the title with wins against Meeker and Hayden. Hayden will face Meeker at 4 p.m. Saturday in Hayden to determine who finishes behind the Cardinals.
With a senior-dominant team, the Tigers are eyeing an impressive finish to the season.
"It's a big game for the boys, too," Adams said. "We need to pack the gym."
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org