Steamboat Springs When a team suffers a plethora of injuries before Christmas break even starts, it’s hard to pick up any rhythm during the meat of the schedule.
The Hayden High School boys basketball is finding this out the hard way.
The boys Tigers squad finally is starting to piece together a roster coach Mike Luppes would have loved to see in early December.
The problem? Conditioning just now is starting to set in, and chemistry barely is evolving.
Hayden dropped its ninth game of the season Saturday afternoon to Paonia, 50-34, but it was a step up from a string of 20- and 30-point losses the Tigers were seeing this time last month.
“We played with them for a little while, then they jumped on us in the second quarter,” Luppes said. “We were even after that. They were definitely the better team today. We’re trying to turn that corner, and it’s getting close.”
The Tigers actually led after one quarter, 14-13, but Paonia owned the second, building a 33-18 halftime margin.
Things are coming together slowly, but Luppes said others across the league already are clicking.
“Everyone else is at midseason form, and we’re at preseason form,” Luppes said.
Isaac Bridges led his team for the second night in a row by scoring 10 points and snagging nine rebounds. Greg Frentress put in nine points, and Thomas Rauch scored seven.
The biggest positive, Luppes said, is that his team is starting to take care of the ball a lot better. Hayden only coughed up 10 turnovers, by far the lowest total of the season, the coach said.
Offensively, however, team chemistry and confident shooting still are plaguing the Tigers.
“We’re struggling to get it going offensively, and we’re still working that way,” Luppes said. “The kids played hard and kept coming at it.”
Hayden’s next game is at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Vail Christian.
To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll