Hayden girls basketball set for big showdown today

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On paper, the Hayden girls basketball team’s Friday night game at Plateau Valley looked like a formality, an appetizer before the Tigers’ 4 p.m. game today against defending Class 2A state champ Paonia.

It was.

Hayden, 13-2 and Class 2A’s No. 6 team in the most recent Denver Post poll, blew past Plateau Valley, 80-28, to set today’s stage.

“We celebrated for about five minutes, then they all totally shifted their focus,” Hayden coach Eric Hamilton said. “I don’t think anyone’s nervous. They’re focused. I’ve never seem this group so focused for one game.”

Paonia has proven a thorn in the Tigers’ paw for years.

The Eagles knocked Hayden into the consolation game of the state basketball tournament two years ago, then pounded the Tigers in Hayden, 61-26, last year en route to the state championship.

Hamilton said his team would have to handle a vicious full-court pressure defense and efficiently get the ball in the paint on offense to get revenge today.

“We know they’re very fast, and they’re always very good,” Hamilton said. “Our advantage will definitely come in the half-court game because of our size.”

Nearly the entire Hayden roster got in on the action Friday in the team’s final run-through.

Sierra Ehlers scored 17 to lead the way. Kyra Rolando had 12, and Amber Sather, Delanie VeDepo and Erin Koehler each had 10.

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