Kyra Rolando goes for a lay-up in the third quarter of the Semi-Final game against the Swink Lions.

Lindsay Eppich

Kyra Rolando goes for a lay-up in the third quarter of the Semi-Final game against the Swink Lions.

Hayden girls basketball headed to state after 58-47 regional win

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Lindsay Eppich

The Hayden Tigers’ Erin Koehler attempts to block a shot against the Swink Lions during the second quarter of the regional championship game.

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Lindsay Eppich

Hayden’s Delanie VeDepo charges the net during the regional championship game against the Swink Lions. Hayden won, 58-47.

— Exactly how it happened, who scored the go-ahead basket, Hayden girls basketball coach Erin Hamilton still wasn’t sure Saturday night.

“It’s just all a blur,” he said.

That’s easy to believe.

The Tigers were on life support midway through Saturday’s regional championship game against Swink. They exploded in the second half, however, took the lead in the fourth quarter and cruised to a win that by the numbers, anyway, seemed comfortable. Hayden beat Swink, 58-47, earning a trip to the Class 2A state tournament in Pueblo for the second time in three years.

“I was worried. I was in a little bit of shock,” Hamilton said. “But these girls, they never quit fighting. They came out in that second half and said, ‘We’re not going to give up.’ They never quit. They wanted state really bad.”

Hayden trailed, 28-20, at halftime. It had trouble containing an elusive Swink point guard, struggled against a tough press and couldn’t generate the kind of turnovers it needed to with pressure of its own.

With a few adjustments, everything was different in the second half.

The process started in the paint, where Hayden’s Erin Koehler and Aubree Haskins took over. Koehler ended up with 18 points, and Haskins had 10.

“We were able to break their press a little bit, and we really started attacking them better on the offensive end,” Hamilton said. “Our posts really came back and played awesome in the second half, and our guards did a great job controlling their offense.”

Kyra Rolando scored 9 points, Brette Frentress had 6, and Delanie VeDepo had 5.

Hayden out scored Swink by 7 in the third quarter, then 12 in the fourth, pushing the lead so wide so fast that Hamilton said it was hard to keep track.

“We kept creeping back slowly in that third quarter, then we took off in the fourth,” Hamilton said. “All of the sudden we were up 12 or something like that. The seniors showed all kinds of poise. Our three guards were really taking care of the ball and the whole starting five did an outstanding job.”

The Tigers will play Thursday in the first round of the three-day state tournament. Their opponent and the game’s time will be released today.

Hamilton wasn’t too worried about the details Saturday night, however.

“It’s crazy. It’s just amazing because you think about how tough it really is to get in to that Great 8,” he said. “You think about all the things that have to fall your way, and you have to have a team with a lot of heart. These girls fought really hard for both games, and I’m really proud of them.”

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

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