Tigers rout rival Rams

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So much for that shooting slump.

After struggling to make shots in an uninspired performance against West Grand on Friday, the Hayden boys basketball team found its touch Tuesday, defeating rival Soroco, 73-29, in Oak Creek.

Hayden ended up beating West Grand, 33-29, to open the league season Friday, but coach Shawn Baumgartner said the shooting was off and that the intensity was lacking even in the win.

Neither was the case Tuesday.

"That was much, much better," Baumgartner said.

"(Coach) said we needed to play with more intensity and pick it up," senior Levi Sheldon said.

Sheldon responded by scoring the first nine points of Tuesday's game, establishing an inside presence that helped open the Tigers' outside shooters early in the half. Senior Evan Hilling made three 3-pointers, and Sheldon added a pair, including one right before the half to give Hayden a 42-16 halftime lead.

The Tigers scored only 33 points Friday against West Grand.

"I thought we got the ball inside well and moved the ball to get open looks," Baumgartner said.

The Tigers finished with 22 assists.

After establishing a 26-point lead through the first 16 minutes, Hayden locked down defensively in the third quarter, holding the Rams to just three points while scoring 18 of their own.

Baumgartner was able to give quality minutes to his reserves, as was Rams coach Andy Smith.

Soroco, for the most part, is a relatively young team, and the Tigers took advantage on the offensive end and on the boards. The combination of Sheldon and juniors Keenan Bruchez, Tyson Letlow and Tyson Sweetser scored 43 points. Soroco's posts -- senior Denis Luark and sophomore Steven Meade -- were held to four points, and all four came in the fourth quarter.

Sheldon finished with 20 points. Hilling had 13, and Bruchez had 10. Senior Tony Iacovetto led Soroco with 12 points. Senior Ben Montoya added four.

Sheldon continues to give Hayden points inside and out, asserting himself early and often on offense Tuesday. Last year, Sheldon was a junior varsity player. Now, he's a starter.

"He's definitely a more aggressive kid," Baumgartner said.

Sheldon said he was tired of watching his friends, the guys he grew up playing with, on varsity while he played on JV, so he did something about it.

"I decided I had to pick it up," Sheldon said.

Hayden improved to 8-1 with the win and remains 1-0 in Western Slope League play. Soroco drops to 3-4 overall and stays 0-1 in the league. Hayden plays North Park at 8 p.m. Friday in Hayden. Soroco plays Grand Valley at 7 p.m. Friday in Oak Creek.

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