Hayden girls open tournament against Meeker

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Hayden girls basketball, 2008-09

— It's supposed to be hard to beat the same team three times, but don't tell the Hayden High School girls basketball team.

The Tigers have beaten three teams three separate times already this season, a feat most recently accomplished last weekend, when the squad bested Soroco High School for the third time to advance to the district tournament.

Now if Hayden hopes to have success in that tournament, it will have to accomplish the task one more time.

The Tigers tip off against Meeker High School at 6:30 p.m. today at the district tournament in Meeker.

The Tigers first beat the Cowboys on the road, winning, 53-42, on Jan. 20. Things were considerably closer when the teams met again a few weeks later, with Hayden pulling out a 50-47 win Feb. 6 thanks to a late Kylee Sweetser 3-point shot.

Hayden coach Eric Hamilton isn't about to overthink his team's situation.

The Tigers' first-year coach said he hasn't been losing sleep worrying about what adjustments Meeker might make or how his team should best respond.

Instead, he's focused on what allowed the Cowboys to stay close in both of those games.

The Tigers had big leads both times but allowed the gap to close. The problem nearly cost Hayden the game in February before Sweetser bailed the team out.

"We watched the film of that last game. We were really controlling them pretty good, and they made a run in the fourth quarter," Hamilton said. "We just need to take care of our lead better and play. We let up on our defense.

"We'll be fine if we play solid defense all four quarters."

Hayden might actually be fine no matter what happens in this weekend's two-game stretch.

If the Tigers win today, they likely will face district regular-season champion Paonia High School on Saturday. That would mean a rematch with the only team that beat Hayden this season.

Even a loss today wouldn't prevent the Tigers from advancing to next week's regional tournament, however. The district tournament decides the seeds for next week's action, but Hayden already is guaranteed to advance.

But Hamilton wasn't about to accept that this weekend's games don't matter.

"We really want to win," he said. "We want a shot at Paonia, and we want to win the district championship.

"The girls, man, they're pumped. They're very excited about getting to play this weekend."

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