When Hayden High School boys coach Mike Luppes looks at the team's 1 p.m. home game Saturday against De Beque, everything seems to fall in the Tigers' favor.
The Dragons come in winless, are young and have struggled mightily this year.
Unfortunately for Luppes and Hayden, this is exactly the type of team that has given the Tigers fits so far this season.
"Those seem to be the teams that give us the biggest problem," Luppes said. "We know we have to come to play every game. We've had a lot of discussions with the boys that we have to come every game."
Luppes said Hayden needs to find consistency as the season progresses into its final stretch. Last weekend, Hayden was able to beat West Grand, but couldn't find any consistency in a loss to Plateau Valley.
"If we play our ball game and play with good intensity, we can play with anybody in our conference," Luppes said. "But if we come off, we can get beat by anybody in our conference."
Making the De Beque game even more interesting and important is where Hayden sits. With a 5-4 overall record and a 1-1 record in league play, Luppes said the De Beque game almost becomes a must-win for Hayden. With league favorites Meeker and Soroco still on the schedule, Luppes said building momentum for the rest of the season starts Saturday.
Luppes said the keys to the game - as they always are for the Tigers - start with defensive intensity and rebounding. Luppes said the Tigers will be successful if they can turn defense into offense and dominate the glass with forwards Murphy Smartt and Zach Barnes.
"We need to get this one," Luppes said. "If we lose this one, we're scrambling without a doubt. We'll have to take a look at what we're doing as players and coaches. This is a win we need to have."
The Hayden girls game scheduled against De Beque has been postponed because the Dragons don't have enough players. A make-up date has yet to be scheduled.