Hayden senior Elaine Cromie tries to wrap around a North Park player Friday to grab a loose ball. The Tigers gave up a 19-4 first-half lead but still managed to win the game, 48-37.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Hayden senior Elaine Cromie tries to wrap around a North Park player Friday to grab a loose ball. The Tigers gave up a 19-4 first-half lead but still managed to win the game, 48-37.

Tigers girls outlast Wildcats

North Park gives Hayden basketball late scare

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Hayden girls basketball, 2008-09

Results

Hayden 48, North Park 37

North Park:1-14-11-11 - 37

Hayden: 6-17-10-15 - 48

North Park: Hanson 1 1-1 3, J.Baller 1 1-2 3, Pantle 4 1-2 9, McNaney 1 1-2

4, Rizor 2 8-11 12, Irvine 3 0-4 6. Totals 12 12-22 37.

Hayden: R.Koehler 2 0-0 4, Salazar 7 1-2 15, E.Koehler 1 0-0 2, Mahanna 0

4-8 4, Rolando 2 0-0 4, Woodley 0 0-2 0, Sweetser 3 1-2 10, Vedepo 1 2-2 4,

Gromie 1 2-2 4, Manzanares 0 1-2 1. Totals 17 11-20 48.

3-pointers: North Park (1) - McNaney. Hayden (3) - Sweetser 3.

— Hayden High School girls basketball coach Eric Hamilton said earlier this week he was looking for offensive production from more than just his team's stars.

He gave the Tigers reserves plenty of rope Friday night against North Park, and in the end, they managed to tie up the Wildcats. Hayden improved to 12-1 with a 48-37 victory.

It was far from a dominating showing, but Hamilton said it was strong enough to give the team confidence heading into today's game at Rangely.

"We play a much better team (today), and we have to play a lot better," Hamilton said. "That's the attitude our team has now. They know they need to play much better. We always seem to get up for the better teams."

Hamilton admitted that even he got nervous late in Friday's game, a contest that seemed sure to be a blowout in the early going.

Hayden led 6-1 after the first quarter but appeared to blow the game open early in the second. Senior Kylee Sweetser drained a pair of 3-point shots as the lead swelled to double digits. The Tigers led, 19-4, at their high-water mark.

That 15-point lead came with four minutes remaining in the first half.

Hayden's scoring dried up, however, and North Park finally found some offense. When North Park's Matti Irvine banked a layup off the glass as time expired in the first half, the 'Cats had clawed to within seven points.

Only a fourth-quarter flurry of Holli Salazar baskets gave the Tigers any breathing room. Hayden's leading scorer struggled to score in the first half as the North Park zone hung tight inside the 3-point arch, daring Hayden to shoot and limiting Salazar's touches.

She finally got on track, scoring to open the fourth quarter before adding another quick bucket on an offensive rebound. The Tigers worked to quickly reverse the court later in the quarter to find Salazar open on the block again, and Sweetser fed Salazar for her final bucket of the game, capping off a team-best, 15-point performance.

"They finally opened up their defense a little bit, and we took advantage," Hamilton said. "That's our bread and butter, pounding it in there."

Salazar's late charge nearly wasn't enough. Hamilton benched his starters with several minutes remaining in the game and North Park almost made him pay. The team's full-court press generated a consistent stream of Tigers turnovers, and the Wildcats Hillary Rizor just missed on a play that could have cut the deficit to four.

The crowd, gathered in the Hayden High School gymnasium to celebrate the school's Snowcoming, couldn't breathe the relaxed sigh of victory until freshman Erin Koehler scored off a Jarah Woodley assist.

"I was trying to get them to take care of it there at the end," Hamilton said. "It was a good experience for them. I want them to be able to get in there, take care of it and finish those teams off.

"That got a little shaky, though."

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