Hayden senior Erin Koehler already has scored more than 30 points twice this season. She said a tough summer of working out, lifting weights and focusing on her shooting contributed to her performance.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Hayden senior Erin Koehler already has scored more than 30 points twice this season. She said a tough summer of working out, lifting weights and focusing on her shooting contributed to her performance.

Hayden girls hoops’ Erin Koehler racks up impressive stats

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2011-12 Tigers girls basketball schedule

— It wasn’t that she had struggled as a junior. In fact, Hayden High School senior Erin Koehler was one of the key components of a team that qualified for the state tournament a year ago, a scoring and rebounding threat on par with the best in the region.

It was that Koehler thought she could be better, and as she began to focus on her goal of playing college basketball, she knew she’d have to be.

Koehler, Hayden’s 6-foot center, launched an offseason assault dedicated to improving her game, improving her team’s chances at success and improving her chances at that college scholarship.

The results have been undeniably positive.

“My team is just getting me the ball,” Koehler said. “They’ve been great about getting me the ball, and I’ve been working really hard in the gym. It has been paying off.”

No kidding.

In the first six games this season, Koehler’s managed to nearly double her points per game.

Summer sweat

It started when Koehler approached then-Hayden coach Eric Hamilton early last summer with her plans, her hopes. He agreed to help her, at first entirely unaware of what he’d gotten himself into.

“She held me to it. She would call and make sure we were going,” Hamilton said. “If I wanted a day off, well, it didn’t really happen. It was her drive that kept her going, and I was amazed at how hard she went at it, how she would come in ready to work, as serious as could be.”

Koehler split her time between lifting in the weight room and shooting, whether that be in the gym with Hamilton, at home with her family or anywhere else she could squeeze in shots.

The added strength and increased precision have shown up early this season, and Koehler’s helped her team to a 5-1 start.

She hit two 3-pointers all of last season. She’s already proven herself much more capable from behind the line.

“They definitely do loosen up,” Koehler said, speaking about defense when she wanders from her typical spot under the hoop or in the paint. “They loosen up, for the first couple of plays, anyway.”

Down low, she said she’s gone from being pushed around at times to having the strength to push back when necessary.

“She’s a threat,” Hayden coach Michelle Wilkie said. “She’s a threat on the inside and she’s a threat on the outside, and it’s difficult for teams to shut her down.”

Teamwork

So far, no one’s been overly successful shutting Koehler down.

She poured in an eye-popping 35 points in the season’s first game, a 56-37 win against Cedaredge. She scored 36 a week later against Vail Christian and 26 in a rout of North Park. She’s yet to be held below 12 and is averaging nearly 23 points per game.

Koehler doesn’t need be reminded that those are the kind of numbers that catch the eyes of college coaches.

“I wanted to prove to a lot of people and to myself that the work I had put in would pay off,” Koehler said. “I knew the work I needed to put in to get where I needed to be. I’m hoping to play college basketball, and that has motivated me. My teammates motivate me, too. I love winning and succeeding with them.”

At the rate she and her team are going this season, much more success could await.

“We have what it takes,” she said about this year’s Tigers squad. “We’re on our way. We’re working hard, pushing one another and constantly getting better. That’s what it takes.”

Hayden High School's Erin Koehler, game by game

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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