Hayden It didn’t take Hayden High School senior girls basketball player Rachael Koehler long to answer.
Asked how to stop her and her sister Erin, and Rachael was quick and concise.
“No,” she said. “I just don’t want to give anything away.”
The Koehler sisters were about as big as it came Saturday against a pesky Rangely team, helping Hayden pull away with a 56-47 win.
The win puts Hayden in a position to take the district title with a victory at Paonia on Friday. That game begins at 5 p.m.
“When they have big games, we’re tough,” Hayden coach Eric Hamilton said about the Koehler sisters. “They feed off each other, being sisters. (Saturday) you could see that. That was a heck of a team effort. That was a good team we beat.”
The Koehlers combined for 30 points and 32 rebounds, including the biggest series of plays down the stretch.
With the Tigers clinging to a 50-47 lead with 4 minutes, 57 seconds left in the game, Rachael hit 1 of 2 free throws. The second one bounced off the rim, and Erin grabbed it, put it back and scored to give Hayden a 53-47 lead.
“We’ve been working together for a while,” said Erin, who led all scorers with 16 points to go along with 13 rebounds. “When we click, it’s fun. We’ve been working all week on crashing the boards.”
Hayden, however, initially looked like it would blow the game open in the first half. The Tigers took an 18-8 lead after the first quarter and had extended it to 36-24 at halftime. But Rangely came out firing in the third quarter. The Panthers caused eight third-quarter turnovers and turned the game into a track meet. Rangely opened the quarter on a 14-3 run to cut the score to 39-38.
But Hayden would never let Rangely get any closer.
“This win means we’re playing Paonia for the district championship,” Rachael said. “I’ve been dreaming about this since the end of the state game last year. I think we’re playing at about an eight right now. We know we’ve got a lot more to do.”
Hayden boys cruise to 56-41 win vs. Rangely
Being about as efficient and effective as the team has all season, the Hayden High School boys basketball squad easily beat Rangely on Saturday, 56-41.
The Tigers got a big first half, balanced scoring and limited the Panthers’ Patrick Phelan, one of the top scorers in the league.
“Phelan, we just had to shut him down,” said Hayden guard Graig Medvesk, who along with Jon Lee played Phelan in the Tigers’ box-and-1 defense. “We rotated people on him and kept fresh people on him.”
Phelan finished the game with 13 points, 7 of those coming in an inconsequential fourth quarter.
“Patrick’s a heck of a player,” Hayden coach Mike Luppes said. “Any time you hold him to four field goals, you’re doing something right.”
And where Hayden’s defense started things, the offense followed suit.
The Tigers caused 12 first-half Rangely turnovers and committed only three of their own.
With just a 16-10 lead after one quarter, Hayden started to find its rhythm. The Tigers used runs of 9-0 and 8-0 in the second quarter to build a 33-21 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, Hayden outscored Rangely, 15-4, to take a 48-25 lead.
“This is probably as consistent as we’ve played for an entire game all season,” Luppes said. “It was about us cutting down our turnovers.”
Medvesk and Ben Williams paced the Tigers with 16 points apiece. Raul Valdez had 11 rebounds, Murphy Smartt added 10 and Rene Valdez chipped in nine.
Hayden next plays at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday against Baggs, Wyo. The team then plays at 6 p.m. Friday at Paonia.
Hayden and Paonia each have one loss in district play meaning the winner will finish in second place behind Class 2A’s No. 2 team, Meeker.
“It’s going to come down to execution and eliminating turnovers,” Medvesk said. “But (Saturday) was big. Rangely was supposed to be one of the best teams, and we put them away easily.”