Members of the Hayden High School boys basketball team show their disappointment Saturday after falling to Denver Christian in the regional championship basketball game in Grand Junction. Hayden lost, 64-39.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Members of the Hayden High School boys basketball team show their disappointment Saturday after falling to Denver Christian in the regional championship basketball game in Grand Junction. Hayden lost, 64-39.

Hayden boys basketball ends season at regionals, 64-39

Denver Christian too big for Hayden boys

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Game statistics

Denver Christian 64, Hayden 39

Denver Christian: Riley Herren 2 0-0 4, Alex Terpstra 6 2-4 17, Chris Pranger 1 1-3 3, Rafael Luna 0 1-2 1, Steven Conway 2 0-1 5, Connor Kroshus 3 5-7 12, Chase Viss 2 0-0 4, Drew Kastens 1 0-0 2, Austin LeFebre 7 2-2 16. Totals 24 11-19 64.

Hayden: Hunter Johnson 1 0-0 2, Graig Medvesk 5 1-1 13, Ben Williams 1 4-5 6, Brandon Ray 1 2-2 4, Jorge Valdez 1 1-2 3, Mark Doolin 5 0-0 11. Totals 14 8-10 39.

3-pointers: Denver Christian (5) — Terpstra 3, Conway, Kroshus. Hayden (3) — Medvesk 2, Doolin.

— With strong, experienced guards and a pair of sophomore forwards who grew to fit their big roles, the Hayden High School boys basketball team had little trouble winning the Western Slope League title, its division and the right to play in the regional championship game Saturday in Grand Junction.

The Tigers finally found their match, however. Denver Christian proved a little too big, a little too athletic and simply too good Saturday, ending Hayden’s season one win short of the state tournament, 64-39.

“They had size; they ran the floor well and had good shooters. We knew they were a really good team,” Hayden coach Mike Luppes said. “Our kids left it all out on the court.”

Denver Christian managed to open up what had been a tight game with a stellar second half, but the seeds of the Tigers’ demise were sown in the first and second quarters.

Denver found scoring from a number of players, and the whole team was good on defense, but in particular Hayden could find no answer for 6-foot-5 Denver Christian junior Austin LeFebre on offense or defense. The Tigers kept it close until early in the third quarter, but Denver outscored Hayden by 10 in that period and 11 in the fourth, squeezing any drama from the game.

LeFebre’s efficiency tested Hayden in ways the team hasn’t been tested this year and in some ways it didn’t ever expect to be challenged. The Tigers could do little to stop him as he became the focal point of Denver’s offensive attack in the second quarter. He scored six consecutive points for his team and then notched three blocks on one Hayden possession.

LeFebre’s defensive prowess proved even more important in the second half, as he did what has been nearly impossible to do: stop Hayden senior Graig Medvesk.

Medvesk scored 13 points in the first half, but he couldn’t find much room to operate after the half when Denver retooled its tough man-to-man defense. LeFebre, the tallest regular player in the game, drew the assignment on Medvesk, perhaps the game’s best guard.

“I was surprised they did that, but it worked well for them,” Medvesk said. “I couldn’t get an open shot. I always had a hand in my face.”

Medvesk was shut out in the second half as his team managed just 13 points.

LeFebre’s “a big man, but he’s quick, and just has a little bit more length,” Denver Christian coach Dick Kastens said.

Denver also got a solid game from Alex Terpstra, who led all scorers with 17 points, and Connor Kroshus, who had 12. LeFebre finished with 16.

Hayden sophomore Mark Doolin continued a late-season hot streak and finished with 11 points. Ben Williams had 6.

“We played well with them for a while, but then we ran out of gas,” Luppes said. “They had great defenders, had good backside help and were really tough.”

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

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