Hayden High School's Caitlin Mahanna bumps Meeker High School senior Sydney Cook out of the way to grab an offensive rebound late in Friday's win against Meeker. Mahanna quickly relayed that ball to teammate Rachael Koehler, who scored a basket to help the Tigers hang on and win the game, 50-47.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Hayden High School's Caitlin Mahanna bumps Meeker High School senior Sydney Cook out of the way to grab an offensive rebound late in Friday's win against Meeker. Mahanna quickly relayed that ball to teammate Rachael Koehler, who scored a basket to help the Tigers hang on and win the game, 50-47.

Sweetser's swish saves Hayden girls from Meeker

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Hayden girls basketball, 2008-09

Statistics

Hayden 50, Meeker 47

Meeker 8-5-18-16 - 47

Hayden 14-10-12-14 - 50

Meeker - S.Cook 3 4-4 10, Kindall 6 4-5 16, Fitzgibbons 2 2-4 6, M.Cook 2 8-8 13, Kendall 1 0-0 2. Totals 14 18-20 47.

Hayden - Mahanna 2 0-0 4, Salazar 5 3-5 13, Koehler 6 0-0 12, Sweetser 4 2-2 13, Cromie 1 0-0 2, Rolando 1 1-1 3, VeDepo 1 1-2 3. Totals 20 7-10 50.

3-pointers: Meeker (1) - M.Cook. Hayden (3) - Sweetser 3.

On any other night, the Hayden girls basketball team might have been ready to exhale.

Only four games remain in the regular season after Friday's win against Meeker. The Tigers have beaten two of those opponents handily and should be heavily favored in the other two games.

There was little extra breath to be had after a thrilling victory against the Cowboys, however. Even today's game against Vail Christian seemed a million miles away as the team celebrated itself red-faced in front of its bench as time expired.

Hayden senior Kylee Sweetser buried a 3-point shot with 8 seconds remaining to give her team the 50-47 victory.

"That was awesome," Hayden coach Eric Hamilton said. "What a beautiful shot."

Sweetser's bomb bailed Hayden out after it continued a trend and again gave up a double-digit lead.

Hayden took control of the ball in a tie game after a Meeker turnover with 18.3 seconds remaining. Another Cowboys turnover, this time with just 10 ticks left, set up Sweetser's winner.

"I was just hoping and praying for the best," said Sweetser, whose 13 points tied with Holli Salazar to lead the team. "I wasn't really supposed to shoot a three, but we didn't have anything set. I was open, so I just took it."

Fouls handicapped Hayden throughout the contest and paved the way for Meeker's comeback.

Hayden's leading scorer, Holli Salazar, missed much of the second and third quarters because of foul trouble, but Hayden overcame that disability.

Hayden forward Rachael Koehler established a strong offensive presence in the paint and scored 10 of her 12 points in the second half.

Elaine Cromie stole a pass and scored midway through the third quarter and Caitlin Mahanna slipped in for a layup as the quarter expired.

Meeker was steady in its pursuit, however. Cowboys senior Janae Kindall scored 9 of her game-high 16 points in the fourth quarter. Her teammate Marci Cook tied things at 47 when she stole a ball and went for a layup with 45 seconds remaining.

"Sometimes when we get up, we get a little too comfortable," Koehler said. "We need to learn that the game isn't over yet."

It's a trend the Tigers hope to put a stop to as they hit the road today to play Vail Christian.

Hayden is on track to finish second in both the district and the league, thanks to a narrow loss earlier this season to frontrunner Paonia.

"We have to win those next three league games," Hamilton said. "Then, we can only hope someone will beat Paonia."

- To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail jreichenberger@steamboatpilot.com

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