Hayden Showing up to a Hayden High School girls basketball game wearing black and orange usually wouldn't cause a stir, but Jacky Gaddis was the Coal Ridge coach.
"I've always done it," said Gaddis about wearing the opponent's team colors. "But this is the first time I've worn orange. I had to borrow the vest."
Coal Ridge is a new high school this year, and Gaddis' quirky clothing choices have lightened the mood on a varsity team composed of freshmen and sophomores.
On Saturday, Coal Ridge made its veteran coach proud, playing with poise beyond its years in a 52-47 win against Hayden.
"Kids can have talent, but that mental part of women's basketball is more important than anything," Gaddis said.
In a game that was close throughout, the Titans pulled ahead in the fourth quarter, capitalizing on rushed shots and bad passes by the Tigers.
"They have nothing to lose," said Hayden coach Stephanie Davis, pointing to the team's youth. "My hats off to them. They made the plays."
Tigers senior Mariah Doolin made things interesting, draining a 3-pointer with 50 seconds left. It took Hayden 20 seconds to foul on Coal Ridge's ensuing possession, however, and the Titans made two free throws in the final 26 seconds to hold on to the win.
Daile Gray made four 3-pointers for Coal Ridge. Teammates Morgan Jessup and Mikaela Guettler added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Doolin finished with 11 points, and senior Sara Sumerlin chipped in nine. Eight players scored, giving the Tigers the offensive balance they are looking for. On Saturday, Hayden didn't value the basketball enough down the stretch to win, and that included working the ball into the low post.
Juniors Emily Whiteman and Katy Koehler combined to score 13 points, but Coal Ridge was one of the few teams the Tigers will play this year with less height than them.
"It was pretty open," Koeh--ler said about the post. "They didn't really adjust at halftime. We just weren't seeing it."
Hayden managed to pull out a close 50-47 win against West Grand on Friday. Whiteman scored eight points. Freshman Kylee Sweetser had seven points and 11 rebounds.
"Those 11 rebounds are more than they've had in some games this year," Davis said.
Rebounding has been a priority for Hayden, and the Tigers had 33 rebounds against West Grand.
"We played better team ball (Friday) night," Davis said. "We hit some clutch free throws down the line."
Hayden was 5-of-8 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter Friday, getting points from Jessica Martin, Koehler, Doolin and Sumerlin. By comparison, the Mustangs were just 4-of-13 from the free-throw line in the game's final quarter.
Up next for Hayden (3-5 overall, 1-1 in league play) is a 7 p.m. game Tuesday against Soroco in Hayden.