Hayden senior Hunter Johnston and Soroco junior Cody McCollum battle for a loose ball in the first half of Tuesday's district playoff game in Hayden.

Photo by John F. Russell

Hayden senior Hunter Johnston and Soroco junior Cody McCollum battle for a loose ball in the first half of Tuesday's district playoff game in Hayden.

Hayden boys hoops cruises to 73-53 win against Soroco

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— Hayden High School boys coach Mike Luppes didn’t have a plan for the end of the week. 

Despite twice rolling over rival Soroco earlier this year, Luppes made sure his team was focused on Tuesday’s opening round of the district tournament. 

It worked. In a tailor-made Tigers win, Hayden got up and down the court, dominated rebounding and ran away with a 73-53 win.  

“We tell the kids it’s the most important game of the year,” Luppes said. “You win, and you play for two more weekends. You lose, and you’re done.”

Soroco didn’t have the players to keep up with Hayden and was without starting guard Matt Regan, who was sent to the locker room after getting in a brief altercation with a Hayden player. 

The Rams trailed just 38-26 at halftime and seemingly still were in the game. 

But the Tigers opened the third on a 14-5 run to take a 52-31 lead midway through the third quarter. 

From there, Hayden continued to impose its will with what seemed like an endless amount of front-court depth.    

Paul Laliberte led the Tigers with 22 points. Mark Doolin had eight points, 15 rebounds and four blocks. 

Nic Paxton and Ryan Jeep each scored 23 for the Rams. 

Hayden likely will play West Grand on Friday. A full district bracket will be available Wednesday. 

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

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