The Hayden boys and girls basketball teams will host the District 5 finals this weekend, setting the stage for both, perhaps, to advance to the regional tournament in Grand Junction on March 4 and 5.
The Hayden girls will play Meeker at 7 p.m. Friday. The Hayden boys will face Grand Valley at 8:30 p.m. Friday. The winners of those games will advance to the district finals at 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., respectively, Saturday.
The Rangely boys won the Western Slope League championship, and Grand Valley picked up the girls' crown. Winning the league title means both teams are guaranteed to advance to regionals. However, both are playing for district titles, and should Rangely's boys and Grand Valley's girls win Friday -- as expected --Hayden's teams need only to win Friday to guarantee a trip to regionals.
To do so, the Tigers' teams will have to avenge recent losses.
The Hayden and Grand Valley boys have played three times this season, with the Tigers holding a 2-1 advantage, but the most recent game was a one-point Cardinals win.
Hayden boys coach Shawn Baumgartner said there are no advantages to facing a team for the fourth time in one season. He also doesn't think the Tigers have the edge because they are coming off a loss to the Cardinals.
"I'm not a believer that any loss is a good loss," he said. "This time of year, every game is so important. ... We only beat them by eight the first time, and then beat them by 23. Defensively, they were a lot more intense (in their win). They played man defense, and we are preparing more for that."
Rangely faces Paonia at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the first semifinal game.
On the girls' side, should Hayden defeat Meeker on Friday, Grand Valley likely will await in Saturday's final. Grand Valley plays Rangely in a semifinal game at 4 p.m. Friday, but the Cardinals have been the clear frontrunner in the district for the entire season.
"We're going to watch the Grand Valley game," Hayden coach Jayme Adams said. "But right now, we're concentrating on Meeker. They run a 3-2 half-court trap, and they run it very well. We are working on a press breaker that goes right into our offense, and we'll work on that all week. It's nice to have four days to prepare for one game."
Hayden and Meeker met once this year, with the Cowboys winning, 61-42, but the season is riding on Friday's game.
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