Hayden boys basketball team burns by Soroco, winning 69-53 | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden boys basketball team burns by Soroco, winning 69-53

Hayden's Mark Doolin plays defense on Soroco's Nic Paxton on Friday in Oak Creek. The Tigers got up big early to take down the Rams for the second time this season.

— Hot foreheads may have rendered the Hayden High School boys basketball team vulnerable during a Friday night trip to face Soroco, but a couple of positively sizzling hands ensured the Tigers wouldn't stumble in Oak Creek.

A Hayden team beset by widespread sickness came out red hot and made quick work of the Rams, finishing off a season sweep of the series, 69-53.

"I was really pleased with our performance tonight. Really pleased," coach Mike Luppes said.

The win sets the Tigers up for a crucial game at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in Hayden against West Grand. With a win, the team likely will be perched in the second seed at the district tournament later this month.

If the team can repeat Friday's performance, there may be no way to stop it.

Junior Paul Laliberte poured in seven 3-point shots and scored 26 while classmate Mark Doolin hit two treys and finished with 24.

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"I really liked our shot selection," Luppes said. "We hit some good 3s, but they were coming out of our offense. We weren't forcing them."

Soroco was knocked out of the game by the early onslaught but was more competitive in the second half, thanks largely to another beastly performance from sophomore forward Ryan Jeep.

Jeep left the fans smiling by draining a long 3-point shot at the final buzzer, but that was just icing on his 28-point night.

"He's really been putting work in and is definitely one of the best players in the league," Soroco junior Nic Paxton said. "At the beginning of the season, he was a little slow, but now he's playing the biggest role on our team.

"We played well tonight, but Hayden couldn't miss a shot. We didn't shoot a great percentage and we'll have to shoot better. Now we have Meeker, and they're a good team. We'll have to come out and get after it."

The Rams return to action at 4 p.m. Saturday at home against Meeker.

Game statistics

Hayden boys 69, Soroco 53

Hayden — Hunter Johnston 2 0-0 6, Paul Laliberte 9 1-3 26, Brent Gabel 0 0-1 0, Aaron Cramer 1 0-0 3, Jorge Valdez 0 2-2 2, Mark Doolin 9 4-4 24, Isaac Bridges 2 4-4 8. Totals 23 11-14 69.

Soroco — Matthew Regan 1 1-2 4, AJ Anderson 1 3-4 5, Cody McCollum 0 3-4 3, Charley Fitzhugh 1 0-0 2, Nic Paxton 3 1-2 9, Bjorn Carlson 0 2-2 2, Ryan Jeep 12 3-5 28. Totals 18 13-19 53.

3-point shots: Soroco (2) — Paxton, Jeep. Hayden (11) — Laliberte 7, Johnston 2, Doolin 2.

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