Hayden Neither the Hayden nor West Grand girls basketball teams played well Tuesday, but the Tigers will advance to Saturday's first-round district game after a 37-23 win in Hayden.
Although the final score is lopsided, unforced errors plagued both teams, particularly in the passing game.
"We were so tight," Tigers coach Stephanie Davis said. "We played not to lose. This was a big game for us."
The Tigers and Mustangs had stretches of great defensive play, but most of the teams' mistakes were mental lapses -- three-second violations, travels or errant passes.
Hayden travels to Grand Valley for a 1 p.m. game Saturday in Parachute. If the Tigers hope to be close to the Western Slope League champions, they will have to be sharper.
"When we are playing really good teams we tend to play to their level," said junior Emily Whiteman, who scored nine points in Tuesday's win. "We kept with Grand Valley in the first half when we played them before."
Hayden had defeated West Grand twice earlier this season, which is sometimes more dangerous than being an underdog.
"We knew West Grand would come in wanting it," said senior Sara Sumerlin, who had 11 points.
The Mustangs hung with the Tigers for most of the game. Hayden had a slim 12-10 lead by halftime and stretched it to five points on senior Mariah Doolin's wide-open look from behind the arc, giving the Tigers an 18-13 lead with 5 minutes, 19 seconds left in the third quarter.
But West Grand came back to tie things up at the end of the third, giving one team eight minutes to decide its postseason fate. The Tigers came out strong, going on an 8-2 run to start the fourth, sparked by great defense and five points from sophomore Jacquelyn Denker, who finished with eight points and a team-high eight rebounds.
For the next 2 minutes and 20 seconds, the teams traded turnovers, which worked out for the Tigers because the Mustangs were unable to cut into Hayden's lead.
"We mixed up our defenses and presses," Davis said.
Hayden made its free throws at the end to seal the win.
The Soroco girls will travel to Meeker for a 1 p.m. game Saturday.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org