Hayden basketball teams defeat Meeker

Boys earn No. 1 seed for regionals

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— Redemption came Saturday for the Hayden High School boys basketball team, and it was sweet.

The team took on top-ranked, undefeated Meeker High School at the Class 2A district tournament in Rangely and won, 63-58. Coach Mike Luppes was exultant as he described a back-and-forth game in which the Tigers kept their intensity up.

“We did a real good job playing defense, keeping good position,” Luppes said. “We were not doing silly fouls. We kept our turnovers down, not nearly as many turnovers this game as with our first game with them.”

Hayden fell to Meeker by 10 earlier this season.

The team beat Soroco High School on Friday night. The win against Meeker on Saturday sent Hayden home with a District 5 tournament plaque. It also places the team in the No. 1 seed slot for the regional tournament next weekend in Grand Junction.

Those accolades didn’t come without a fight.

Hayden led, 17-15, at the end of the first quarter. Meeker hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer before the half to go up 3 points, 31-28. The Cowboys also were ahead at the end of the third, 47-41, before the Tigers came back for the win.

Hayden also took on a supercharged Mitch Jacob, who scored 30 points for Meeker.

“He had six 3-pointers, and he really played a whale of a ball game,” Luppes said.

But the Tigers hang on, partly because of their free-throw shooting. They were 22 of 31 from the line, Luppes said.

“We did a real good job keeping our composure, taking our shots and making our free throws,” he said.

For the Tigers, Graig Med­­vesk had 22 points, Ben Willi­ams and Murphy Smartt had 12 each, Rene Valdez had 10, and Raul Valdez had 9. Smartt had 10 rebounds for the double-double, and Rene Valdez had nine.

Luppes said the team would find out this weekend who it plays Friday in Grand Junction. He’s hoping for a few more wins and a state tournament bid.

But for now, Luppes is just thrilled with his players’ success Saturday.

“They’ve been waiting a long time for this victory over Meeker,” he said, “and we hope they enjoyed it.”

Girls team beats Meeker, 48-44, in district tourney

The Hayden girls basketball team boasted a success of its own at the Class 2A district tournament Saturday in Rangely. The team also beat Meeker, 48-44.

“It was really tight the entire ball game,” coach Eric Hamilton said. “I don’t think we ever were up more than, I think it was a couple points the entire game, just back and forth.”

The Tigers spread scoring duties around: 10 of 12 players ended up with points. Kyra Rolando led with 12, and Erin Koehler had 8.

“Meeker just played us tough today,” Hamilton said Saturday. “They had one girl who had a heck of a game with like 29 points, but we hung on to the win, got it done.”

Last year, the team lost both games at districts and went on to win the region, advance to state and place third. Hamilton didn’t want to see a repeat of the two-loss tournament — the girls fell to Rangely on Friday.

“I was really proud of the girls for bouncing back after that tough loss last night,” Hamilton said. “They played hard today.”

The girls also will play Friday at the regional tournament in Grand Junction.

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