Richard "Festus" Hagins
Holli Salazar, left, and Caitlin Mahanna walk off the court Saturday when the Tigers beat Limon to advance to state.
Updated March 8, 2009 at midnight
Hayden girls basketball, 2008-09
- Dec. 2, Hayden 54, Vail Christian 23; (1-0, 1-0)
- Dec. 4, Hayden 58, Grand Valley 33 at Meeker Tournament; (2-0, 1-0)
- Dec. 5, Hayden 49, Rangely 40 at Meeker Tournament; (3-0, 1-0)
- Dec. 6, Hayden 59, North Park 37 at Meeker Tournament; (4-0)
- Dec. 12, Hayden 73, Soroco 42; (5-0)
- Dec. 13, Hayden 62, Rangely 44; (6-0)
- Dec. 20, Hayden 48, Snake River 38; (7-0)
- Jan. 9, Hayden 68, West Grand 43; (8-0)
- Jan. 10 Hayden 66, Plateau Valley 44; (9-0)
- Jan. 20, Hayden 53, Meeker 42; (10-0)
- Jan. 23, Paonia 54, Hayden 49;(10-1)
- Jan. 27, Hayden 66, Baggs 51;(11-1)
- Jan. 30, Hayden 48, North Park 37;(12-1)
- Jan. 31, Hayden 45, Rangely 42;(13-1)
- Feb. 6, Hayden 50, Meeker 47;(14-1)
- Feb. 7, Hayden 59, Vail Christian 22;(15-1)
- Feb. 13, Hayden 55, Soroco 39;(16-1)
- Feb. 14, Hayden 48, North Park 41;(17-1)
Steamboat Springs Hayden is going to state.
The girls high school basketball team won its regional tournament game Saturday afternoon, knocking off Limon in the championship game to advance to next weekend's Great 8 state basketball tournament.
Hayden won, 57-42.
"It's indescribable," Hayden coach Eric Hamilton said by phone after the game. "It has a lot to do with senior leadership and just how bad the girls wanted this. We've been talking about making it to state since last summer.
"They just weren't going to be denied."
The path to the state tournament was far from easy for the Tigers. They went winless last week in the district tournament, two losses that seemed to spoil the season. The weekend dropped the team to the fourth seed in its four-team regional bracket.
Hayden's hopes appeared dim Friday, too, in the opening-round game of the regional tournament. It took overtime, then a clutch steal by Caitlin Mahanna with five seconds remaining for the Tigers to emerge with the season-saving victory.
Only Saturday did Hayden appear destined to advance to the final stage of the Class 2A state basketball tournament.
The Tigers had a 13-2 lead after one quarter. Although Limon narrowed the gap to six at halftime, it was all Hayden in the second half. The Tigers - led by Holli Salazar's 17 points - surged and led by 23 points late in the fourth quarter before Hamilton emptied the bench.
"We really played well," Hamilton said. "We had very few mistakes and unbelievable defense. Limon is such a great team. To just come out and dominate them and control them was unbelievable."
Hamilton said a patient offense yielded big results. Kylee Sweetser nailed four 3-point shots and finished with 14 points, while Rachael Koehler scored 10.
"We came out on fire," Hamilton said.
The win thrusts the Tigers into the Great 8 against seven teams still alive in Class 2A. The three-day tournament begins Thursday. Hayden's first-round opponent will be announced today.
"I knew this team could do it," Hamilton said. "If we play like we did, we can beat anyone in the state."