Tigers boys basketball set for district tournament

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2012-13 Tigers boys basketball schedule

— The Hayden High School boys basketball team has no trouble remembering its last visit to Paonia.

It was Jan. 19, and the Tigers came in flying high, perfect in the Western Slope. But as time ticked away in the final seconds of the game, it appeared likely that would change.

Hayden’s Isaac Bridges hit a shot with 2 seconds remaining, however, and helped preserve what would become an undefeated league season for the Tigers.

It was a heart-stopping kind of night, so one can understand why Hayden hearts might flutter a bit when contemplating Friday’s semifinal action in the district tournament on the road at Paonia.

There, the host Eagles await.

“In the first half of that game, we did not do a good job on the boards, and we had a lot of turnovers,” coach Mike Luppes said. “We played a good game after that, but they still hung with us, blow for blow. We are in for a real challenge.”

Paonia, 10-10, seems to be playing its best ball of what’s been a decidedly up and down year. After twice losing to Hotchkiss early in the season, the Eagles beat them by one to close out the regular season, then by 36 on Tuesday in the opening round of the district tournament, accounting for two of the team’s five wins in its past six games.

“They put a lot of pressure on you,” Luppes said. “They’re aggressive with their full-court and half-court pressure. If we can handle that, we’ll get some easy baskets because they do leave themselves open sometimes.”

He said Paonia also allowed opponents to shoot 3-pointers. The first time the teams met, Mark Doolin took advantage in a big way, hitting eight on his way to a 31-point effort.

The game is set for 7:30 p.m. in Paonia. The winner plays at 2:30 p.m. Saturday against the winner of the Meeker and West Grand matchup on the other side of the bracket. The losers of those games play at 11:30 a.m. All the teams advance to four-team regional tournaments and are playing this week for seedings.

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

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