Hayden The Hayden High School girls basketball team still had some early season kinks to work out during its home opener Tuesday.
But the Tigers overcame their early turnovers to beat the Little Snake River Rattlers (of Baggs, Wyo.), 47-30.
"We won, but it was an ugly win," Tigers senior Katy Koehler said. "We had good shots, but they wouldn't fall for anything."
The Tigers are running a new offense implemented by coach Stephanie Davis that aims to open up the middle of the key and help set up outside shots and rebounds. The Tigers struggled early to get the new offense going, trading turnovers with the Rattlers. But Hayden moved out to a 13-5 first-quarter lead on a three-point play by Koehler.
In the second quarter, the Tigers used full-court pressure to create numerous scoring opportunities. A Jessica Martin steal set up Kylee Sweetser on the break, followed by another Sweetser basket to put Hayden up by 11. Jacquelyn Denker led the Tigers with six steals, and Emily Whiteman had five.
The Rattlers cut the lead to six in the second quarter when Brooke Lee's three steals sparked a 7-0 Rattlers run. Lee led the way for the Rattlers with 11 points.
Hayden got things rolling in the second half, when the girls began to get points off turnovers and use their new offense to knock down outside shots.
"Sometimes the girls are a little shocked they're so open and don't take the time to get set," Davis said.
Fortunately for the Tigers, even with the missed shots, they had plenty of second chances courtesy of sophomore Holli Salazar, who snatched seven offensive rebounds and scored 10 points. Growing into her role in the post, Salazar led the Tigers with 11 total rebounds, followed by six from Koehler and Jennifer Epp.
Whiteman found her touch in the second half, when she scored nine of her 11 points.
Davis said the Tigers are using the beginning of the season to rotate in bench players and adjust to new positions and offensive responsibilities.
"They look a little more assured each time," she said.
Davis thinks the Tigers next game - at 7:30 p.m. Friday at home against Rangely - will be a good test of just how fast the Tigers are learning their new roles.