Hayden girls struggle against league power Paonia

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— In Hayden High School girls basketball’s first weekend of league play, the first quarter has been its friend.

The remaining three quarters have been a collective struggle.

A night after losing some first-quarter momentum in a loss to Hotchkiss, the Tigers once again saw things unravel against Paonia on Saturday in a 64-25 loss to one of the conference’s top schools.

All things considered, however, Tigers coach Michelle Wilkie was impressed with her team’s resolve despite a steep challenge.

“They executed and played ball,” Wilkie said about her team. “I was not disappointed at all.”

Olivia Zehner, Hayden’s lone senior, led the team with nine points. After one quarter, Hayden trailed 12-9, but a 36-13 halftime score all but wrapped things up in the Tigers’ second league game.

“We need to focus on the positive, but we have to do better,” Wilkie said.

An early foul for one of Hayden’s key contributors Chancey Graham put the Tigers in a deeper hole than they really wanted against the league-leading Eagles.

The 39-point loss was taken with a grain of salt after Hayden was blown out Friday night in what Wilkie called the worst game of the season.

“The kids played so much better,” Wilkie said. “They played more confident. It was more relaxed.”

Hayden travels to Vail Christian on Friday for a 7 p.m. tipoff.

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

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