Hayden hoops wins set up big matches with Soroco

Tigers teams defeat North Park Wildcats

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— Now the real fun begins for the Hayden High School basketball teams.

On a night when North Park simply couldn’t keep up athletically or on the scoreboard, the Hayden basketball teams set up huge showdowns Friday with cross-county rival Soro­co.

The Hayden boys’ 67-38 drubbing of North Park and the Hayden girls’ 71-25 win set up two interesting games with big district impacts.

The Hayden and Soroco girls begin at 6:30 p.m. in Hayden with the boys game to follow at 8 p.m.

“That’s a whole week of intensity,” Hayden’s Murphy Smartt said. “These games don’t help. When Friday gets around, we’ll be ready to go. We have got to play our game. We like to run. They like to run. It’s going to be a shootout.”

It certainly could be. With the win Tuesday, the Hayden boys improved to 13-5 overall and 7-1 in district play.

The Soroco boys come in at 9-4 and 6-2. Essentially, a win Friday locks up second place in the district for Hayden. Soroco can secure the No. 2 seed by winning its last two district games, including Friday’s.

But with one eye on Friday, the Tigers boys put in solid but not spectacular effort against the Wildcats.

Hayden limited its turnovers and dominated on the inside, out-rebounding North Park 50-34.

“They know they got a big game Friday night,” Hayden boys coach Mike Luppes said. “They had this game, and it’s hard to keep the intensity up and come with a whole lot of intensity. It was a workman-like performance. It wasn’t spectacular by any means. They did what they needed to.”

North Park trailed just 10-9 after one quarter, when Hayden opened the game up. The Tigers opened the second quarter on a 17-4 run and outscored the Wildcats, 22-5, in the quarter to take a 32-14 lead into halftime.

“We even had an off night,” said Smartt, who finished with 8 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks, five steals and two assists. “It’s Tuesday night games. It’s hard to keep intensity up. Especially on a week like this.”

Rene Valdez led the Tigers with 13 points and seven rebounds. Graig Medvesk added 12 points, and Raul Valdez had 6 points and 10 rebounds. On the night, 11 Hayden players scored.

In the girls’ game, it was much of the same. Hayden took a 15-6 first-quarter lead, had a 34-12 lead at halftime and blew the game open in the third quarter.

There, the Tigers opened the quarter on a 13-2 run to take a 47-14 lead.

“We had to keep our intensity up and play tough defense,” said Hayden coach Eric Hamilton, whose team was blown out in its last contest against No. 1 Paonia. “We needed a game like this to get everyone’s confidence back up. We needed a win.”

Kyra Rolando led the Tigers with 14 points. Delanie VeDepo scored 13, and Rachael Koehler chipped in 12.

It again sets up a big showdown Friday. The Hayden girls are now 12-6 overall and 7-1 in district play. Soroco comes in at 6-6 and 4-4. A win Friday would almost guarantee that Soroco would host a team in the first round of the district tournament as a top-four seed.

“It’s going to be a blast,” VeDepo said. “We love to play Soroco, and at home is even better.”

— To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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