Hayden boys basketball overcomes awful start, beats Rangely | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden boys basketball overcomes awful start, beats Rangely

— It's not that the Hayden High School boys basketball team can't lose in league play. Heading into their most dangerous weekend of the regular season, the Tigers were very much aware it was a possibility.

Still, few in the crowd in Hayden on Friday night expected the roller coaster they saw. Hayden, undefeated in the Western Slope, fell behind 20-4 in the first quarter but managed to claw its way back and emerge on top, defeating Rangely, 49-42.

"We didn't hit shots. We didn't have good shot selection. We came out flat. We weren't hustling on defense. We were going to the boards," Tigers coach Mike Luppes said, summing up his team's atrocious first quarter.

"Then in the second quarter, it got better," he continued. "It's one of those games that leaves you sick, but hopefully you learned something."

Hayden trailed by 10 at half and one heading into the fourth quarter.

Jorge Valdez scored 16 points and had 12 rebounds, and Paul Laliberte had 13 points and four assists. Luppes said the turnaround took far more than a few big stat lines, however. He pointed to a burst of energy from Dan Engle in the second quarter and a strong all-around game from Aaron Cramer, who finished with nine points and 10 rebounds.

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"You hate to play a first quarter like that, but when you can get away with it and still get a win, when the kids have to suck it up and bring the intensity, it's a good one to a walk away from and hope that you learned something," he said. "When we're down in a game later in the year, hopefully we'll remember we can come back from it."

Hayden may not have the luxury of such a slow start Saturday when it travels to Meeker. The Cowboys, 10-3 and the Tigers, 11-2, may well be playing for the Western Slope title.

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

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