Steamboat Springs The Hayden High School boys basketball team knows the formula for winning basketball games — turn over the ball fewer than 15 times and the Tigers’ odds of winning drastically improves.
But turn over the ball like Hayden did Tuesday against Little Snake River, Wyo., and wins are going to be hard to come by.
The Tigers (12-4) committed 22 turnovers — 13 in the second and third quarters — and had to play catchup in the second half, eventually falling to the Rattlers, 60-52.
“It’s 15 or less, and we’ve played a pretty good ball game,” Hayden coach Mike Luppes said. “I’m afraid we had a lot more than that” Tuesday.
Hayden, however, started out as if it would run away with the game. The Tigers committed just five first-quarter turnovers while forcing seven Rattlers turnovers.
All five starters scored and contributed in the first frame, staking Hayden to a 16-9 lead.
But the turnovers and empty possessions started to mount. And when they did, Little Snake River’s Daniel Wille was more than willing to take advantage.
Just a sophomore, Wille nearly single-handedly kept his team close in the second quarter. He scored 12 of his game-high 28 points in the quarter, including multiple jumpers with at least one hand in his face.
“We were having a tough time scoring, and I knew we needed someone to step up if we were going to keep going with these guys,” said Wille, whose team plays in Wyoming’s Class 1A division and features no seniors and five juniors. “I started looking for my shot more, and they started falling. The basket looks like it’s triple the size it is. I started shooting, and they kept going in.”
Behind Wille, the Rattlers cut the Hayden lead to 28-26 at halftime. The two teams went back and forth for the first three minutes of the third quarter, trading the lead four times and tying twice, before Little Snake River made a run.
The Rattlers finished the last 5 minutes, 50 seconds of the quarter on a 15-4 run to take a 46-36 lead into the fourth quarter.
Hayden battled back but couldn’t pull closer than eight points for the rest of the game.
The Tigers were without a big piece in Raul Valdez, who missed the game because of sickness.
Murphy Smartt led the Tigers with 15 points and 17 rebounds. Graig Medvesk had 11 points, and Rene Valdez and Jon Lee each chipped in 9.
In addition to Wille, Little Snake River’s Sean Rietveld provided an inside punch with 17 points and 19 rebounds.
Hayden resumes play at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Paonia, a game that will decide second place in the district.
“The good thing about this one is it’s a nonleague game,” Luppes said. “That’s of little consolation right now. But we played hard for a full game. It wasn’t a lack of effort. We had shots we didn’t make and lots of turnovers. But they’re playing hard. That’s what we can take out of this.”
— To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org