Steamboat Springs The Hayden High School boys basketball team returns just three varsity players from a year ago and just had two in uniform Thursday night as it opened its season at the annual Cowboy Shootout tournament in Meeker.
Fortunately for the Tigers, those two, standout forwards Mark Doolin and Jorge Valdez, proved more than a match for first-round opponent Crested Butte, and with the help of a couple of sophomores, they lifted Hayden to the tournament's second round, winning 43-24.
"We definitely have a lot of things we need to improve on, but we did a number of things well," Hayden coach Mike Luppes said. "We were short a couple of kids who will be back with us (today), but we had some kids step up and do a real good job."
Doolin and Valdez did plenty of stepping up. Both logged double-doubles. Doolin had 13 points and 11 rebounds while Valdez had 12 points and 12 rebounds. Aaron Cramer scored seven for the Tigers, who also picked up big minutes from Greg Frentress, Isaac Bridges, Dan Engle and Austin Piper.
The squad will welcome back its lone senior, Hunter Johnston, for Friday's 7:30 p.m. semifinal game against Meeker.