The season continues for the Hayden girls basketball team after a narrow 45-42 win against Paonia on Saturday in Hayden.
The No. 3 seed Tigers didn't play 32 minutes of perfect basketball to open the District 5 tournament, but they put together a solid 10-minute stretch late in the third and into the fourth quarter to come from behind and defeat the No. 7 seed Eagles.
Hayden defeated Paonia by 27 points during the regular season.
"They played a 2-3 zone the last time we played them," Tigers coach Jayme Adams said. "(Saturday) they played man. Credit their coaches. That was a good move."
The teams played fairly even through two quarters, with neither team holding more than a four-point lead. Hayden was dealt a blow earlier in the week when senior Alycia Boyd went down with torn ligaments in her ankle.
Junior Mariah Doolin started in Boyd's place and scored seven points. Boyd added eight in the minutes she was able to play.
"It was sore," Boyd said. "I had to push through it. ... I'm so proud of Mariah. She did awesome. I'm so proud of everyone."
Boyd, who wore a protective ankle guard for the duration of Saturday's game, expects to practice all week and play in the next round of District 5 games Friday and possibly Saturday at Hayden High School.
The Tigers will play Meeker at 7 p.m. Friday. Should they win, they will advance to the finals at 1 p.m. Saturday, where top-seed Grand Valley likely will await. Grand Valley plays Rangely in Friday's other game.
Although Hayden took control of Saturday's game midway through the fourth quarter, the Tigers allowed the Eagles to get back in the game late, giving the visiting team hope for the upset.
Hayden built as much as a 41-32 lead off Doolin's putback with 5 minutes, 38 seconds left in the game. Paonia started to chip away at Hayden's lead and closed to within six with 29 seconds left on a made free throw by freshman Casey Simpson.
The Eagles weren't over the foul limit, so they had to commit quick fouls on the floor. In the process, they were able to force Hayden to turn the ball over and regained possession with less than 15 seconds to go.
Senior Nicole Poulos drained a desperation 3-pointer with six seconds left, but Paonia did not foul a Hayden player on the inbounds, allowing the Tigers to escape with a three-point win.
Simpson and Poulos combined to score 40 of the team's 42 points. Paonia's inability to get anyone else involved on offense made itself that much easier to defend. After Poulos scored 15 points in the first half, the Tigers locked down defensively in the second. She scored just seven second-half points, including three on her last-second shot.
"Coach (Bret) Hoover talked about fronting her on defense, and everyone else was playing tough defense behind her," Adams said.
In the zone, Hayden's guards were able to prevent Poulos from getting the ball at the top of the key, where she is a threat to shoot or penetrate through the lane. Any Paonia pass attempts to its weakside players were tipped or picked off by Hayden's posts.
Offensively, the Tigers struggled a bit with the Eagles' full-court press until the final two minutes of the third quarter, when they went on a 7-2 run to close out the third and retake the lead.
Boyd and junior Sara Sumerlin hit two open jumpers to start the fourth, and the Tigers had a lead the Eagles could not overcome.
In addition to Doolin's seven and Boyd's eight points, senior Lauren Branstetter scored nine, and senior Whitney Bell added eight points. Seven players scored for the Tigers.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org