Hayden girls basketball team sets eyes on the state championship

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Girls eye state

— Conversations about the Hay­­den High School girls basketball team and the regional basketball tournament started when snow wasn’t anywhere to be found. It wasn’t preposterous, either, with a senior-laden team coming into the season.

And now that the draws are out, it looks favorable for the Tigers.

Second-seeded Hayden plays at 7 p.m. Friday against third-seeded Custer County at Durango High School. If Hayden wins, it will play No. 1 Dolores or No. 4 Swink at 1 p.m. Saturday.

The winner of the region advances to the eight-team state basketball tournament next weekend in Pueblo.

“This is definitely what you work for all summer and in the offseason,” Tigers coach Eric Hamilton said. “We’ve worked really hard all season to get to this point.”

In Custer County (11-9), Hayden (16-4) finds the third-place team out of District 1. The Bobcats are led by senior Meredith Barnes, who averages 15 points and seven rebounds a game.

Hamilton said it would be paramount that the Tigers limit Barnes’ touches. As the girls come off a district championship loss to Paonia by just a point, Hamilton said he likes the draw and the vibe around his program.

“The girls are really confident,” he said. “I thought coming out of districts we feel real good the way things went. Playing Paonia and getting beat by a point — they were disappointed, but it was a good game. I think it boosted their confidence.”

— To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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