Tigers boys hoops suffers pair of losses, another injury

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— The injuries keep piling up for Hayden High School boys basketball. Their coach’s confidence, however, won’t waver.

The Tigers — playing a doubleheader Saturday like the girls team — dropped their first game, 63-40, to Saratoga. In the process, Hayden coach Mike Luppes lost junior Carlos Valdez to a knee injury.

Valdez had nine points in the first quarter before his injury, but senior Dan Engle did all he could to keep Hayden in the mix, dropping 18 points and 10 rebounds. Thomas Rauch and Kole Miner each had five, and Peyton Spafford, Valdez’s freshman replacement, pitched in three.

“We hung with them for three quarters, and then they outscored us, 16-4, in the fourth,” Luppes said. “That turned the tide.”

The tide never returned to Hayden in the latter part of the day during a 61-32 loss to Encampment. Facing hot shooting from Encampment, the Tigers dug themselves into a 36-18 hole they never would climb out of.

“We just couldn’t generate enough offense to keep up,” Luppes said.

Engle again recorded a double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Miner had seven points and 11 rebounds.

The injuries, no matter how debilitating they have been to Hayden’s young season, aren’t an excuse in the locker room, Luppes said.

“We’ll just patch it together the best we can and move forward,” Luppes said. “That’s high school basketball. You have the players you have and you go with them.”

Hayden will take on Fruita Monument’s JV squad in the first game of the Meeker Shoot-Out on Thursday. Luppes said he doesn’t expect to have Valdez back for another few weeks.

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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