Hayden boys take 4th at Meeker

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— The Hayden boys basketball team saved its best for last during a three-day tournament in Meeker last weekend, but a strong showing against Mancos still resulted in a loss for the Tigers.

The team made the 65-mile trip to Meeker three consecutive days to compete in the eight-team tournament.

On Saturday, during their final game of the tournament, the Tigers found themselves trailing by eight points to Mancos heading into the fourth quarter. Hayden hung tough, and 3-pointers by Billy Zehner and Bryan Richards cut the Mancos lead to three with 30 seconds left. Hayden set a trap, caused a turnover and had a chance to tie the game as time expired, but the shot fell short.

The game ended in a 42-39 Mancos victory.

"I was pleased with the second half," Hayden coach Shawn Baumgartner said. "We took care of the ball, played defense, settled down and at least made it a game where we gave ourselves a chance at the end."

The loss gave Hayden fourth place in the tournament. The Tigers are 3-2 on the season.

Hayden began the tournament Thursday with an opening-round win against the Middle Park junior varsity squad. Baumgartner said the lopsided 45-17 victory was a closer game than it needed to be, citing the Tigers' dismal 28 percent shooting average from the field.

Tigers starting point guard Jordan Williams went down in the third quarter with a sprained ankle after scoring 11 points. He didn't play in the Tigers' next two games.

The Tigers' shooting troubles continued in their Friday semifinal matchup against Meeker.

"We jumped on them pretty quick," Meeker coach Klark Kindler said about his team's 22-0 first-quarter lead. "We got a lot of early turnovers and they couldn't buy a basket. We played extremely well."

The game ended in a 60-25 Hayden loss. Hayden's leading scorer was sophomore Jeremy Engle, who scored five points from the free-throw line.

"It was an off night for us," Baumgartner said.

Meeker, a favorite to win District 5A, started five seniors, four of whom are returning starters from last season. Meeker went on to beat Middle Park, 69-48, in the championship game.

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