Hayden's Jorge Valdez swats Soroco guard Matthew Regan's shot Friday. The Tigers got up big on the Rams in the second half and won comfortably.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Hayden's Jorge Valdez swats Soroco guard Matthew Regan's shot Friday. The Tigers got up big on the Rams in the second half and won comfortably.

Hayden boys hoops bests ice-cold Soroco, 59-40

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— Winter 2011-12 may not be among the coldest on record. The Soroco High School boys basketball team, on the other hand, remained mired Friday night in a positively frigid slump, and that kept Soroco from contending late in a showdown at Hayden.

The Rams and the Tigers took a close game into the halftime locker rooms. Hayden came back out with a more responsibly sound defense and a reinvigorated game in the paint. Soroco, meanwhile, struggled to score, falling far behind in a 59-40 loss.

“We just can’t really get those shots to fall,” Soroco sophomore Ryan Jeep said. “We’ll break that streak at some point. We’re going to start shooting.”

Soroco’s primary shooters didn’t hit once from 3-point range, and Matthew Regan and Nic Paxton — main pistons in the team’s engine when it’s running hot — finished with 10 points between them.

Hayden, meanwhile, got another stellar game from junior Paul Laliberte, who had 19 points and plenty of gritty baskets from forwards Mark Doolin, who had 14 points, and Jorge Valdez, who scored 11.

That pair was at their best in the third quarter, with Doolin scoring three consecutive baskets. The last put the gap at 10 points. Laliberte followed that up with an and-one layup to make it 13. Valdez then scored off an offensive rebound, finishing off the run.

“We were able to get some easy fast break baskets, able to push the ball a little bit,” Hayden coach Mike Luppes said. “We’re a lot better team when we can do that. We have the capabilities, but we don’t always have that mentality yet.”

The change came in large part because of Hayden’s handling of Jeep.

Jeep was outstanding in the first half and had 12 of his team’s 22 points after Regan made two free throws to tie the game.

Jeep didn’t exactly slow down in the second half — he finished with 24 to lead all scorers — but the points didn’t come as easily, and he and the Rams couldn’t keep pace.

“You get a good kid like that and don’t put a body on him for a rebound, that will happen,” Luppes said. “They were getting good guard penetration and getting some dumps. We were getting out of position and they were getting shots up. But we were able to cut a lot of that out in the second half.”

Game statistics

Hayden boys 59, Soroco 40

Soroco — Matthew Regan 1 3-4 5, AJ Anderson 2 0-1 4, Cody McCollum 1 0-0 2, Nic Paxton 2 1-3 5, Bjorn Carlson 1 0-0 2, Ryan Jeep 9 4-4 22. Totals 16 8-12 40.

Hayden — Hunter Johnston 3 0-0 7, Paul Lalibertre 7 1-1 19, Daniel Engle 1 0-0 2, Aaron Cramer 1 1-2 3, Greg Frentress 0 3-4 3, Jorge Valdez 4 3-6 11, Mark Doolin 7 0-0 14. Totals 23 8-13 52.

3-point shots: Hayden (4) — Laliberte 4.

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

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