Desire. The last time the Hayden girls basketball team played Meeker, it displayed none and lost by 19 points.
On Friday, with the season on the line, the refusal to lose lifted Hayden to a 46-45 win and its first trip to regionals since 1998.
"We wanted it more," senior Kim Medvesk said.
No one played bigger down the stretch than Hayden's seniors, a group of girls who have waited four years for a season such as this one.
Today, the Tigers (11-10 overall) play Grand Valley at 1 p.m. in Hayden for the District 5 championship. Win or lose, the Tigers advance to next weekend's regional in Grand Junction. It was a season goal.
"This is by far our biggest win," senior Alycia Boyd said. "It's all we wanted."
The Tigers had four days to prepare for the Cowboys, and they used every ounce of that time, designing ways to beat their press and to limit Meeker's inside shots.
"We told them before the game it would be patience, communication and working hard on defense," Hayden coach Jayme Adams said.
The game's outcome also was determined by timely free-throw shooting. Neither team shot particularly well from the charity stripe during the game, but the Tigers came through at the end -- even if they weren't sure they could.
Medvesk made just one of her first five free throws in the fourth quarter before sinking three of her final four, including the game-winning shot with 13 seconds left. When Meeker's Jessi Smith fouled Medvesk with 13.1 seconds to go in the fourth, Medvesk uttered some words that startled her teammates.
"'She said, 'I can't shoot these,'" Boyd said.
"I told Kim she can't say that," senior Whitney Bell said.
"The pressure is all on you," Medvesk said, explaining why she was nervous.
She dealt with the butterflies, making the first, and when the second did not go in, and the Cowboys got the rebound, the Tigers made sure they were back on defense for the final 10 seconds.
Senior Sam Stewart got a good look inside, but her shot didn't fall, and senior Jamie Waugh pulled down the rebound and didn't let go.
Boyd led all scorers with a game-high 18 points, including 12 in the second half. Bell added 12, and Medvesk had eight points. Meeker sophomore Kristin Schaffer scored 15 points to lead her team, but she fouled out with three minutes left in the game.
Stewart, Smith and Erin Watson each had nine points.
"I could tell at the end of the first quarter we wanted it more than them," Adams said. "I could see it."
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org