Hayden boys basketball wins thriller in Paonia

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2012-13 Tigers boys basketball schedule

— The strength of the Hayden High School boys basketball teams is numbers. The team has three go-to stars, then a bevy of savvy veterans filling out the starting lineup and coming off the bench.

On Saturday, the Tigers needed every bit of that to overcome Paonia. Isaac Bridges hit a baseline jumper with 2 seconds remaining to lift Hayden past the Eagles, 67-66.

The win comes the day after the Tigers, 8-2, won another key road game, against Hotchkiss.

“This was one of our big weekends of the year, to league games where we’re on the road,” coach Mike Luppes said. “We’re pretty happy that it came out this way. This was a really good start to league play.”

Hayden’s quiver of weapons came in handy. The Eagles focused their defense early on seniors Paul Laliberte and Jorge Valdez. Fellow senior Mark Doolin made them pay, and he reined in 31 points, including eight — yes, eight — 3-pointers. He also had 11 rebounds.

“We had a kid that was shooting the ball well, and our players did a good job getting it to him,” Luppes said.

Valdez still ended up with 17 points and 11 boards, and Laliberte had 15 points and seven assists.

Luppes said that Paonia proved more than a match for Hayden early but that the Tigers were much better in the second half. Still, they couldn’t open up a gap and led by two points heading into the fourth quarter.

The Eagles took a lead with 16 seconds remaining, and then Bridges found a way to answer. It was the second such crushing defeat for Paonia in as many nights after they lost to Soroco on a 3-point shot with 3 seconds remaining Friday.

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

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