Hayden boys take control of the league with win in Meeker | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden boys take control of the league with win in Meeker

Luke Graham

— Let's be real.

The Hayden High School boys basketball team has been the best in Routt County since the start of the season.

It started with a second-place finish at the Steamboat Shoot-Out early in the season. And without arguably its best player Saturday in Meeker, Hayden took control of the Class 2A Western Slope League with a 62-58 win.

The Tigers got limited minutes from starting point guard Paul Laliberte who turned an ankle in the final 10 seconds of Friday's game against Rangely.

With Laliberte hobbling and playing about a quarter of the game Saturday, the Tigers turned to its stable of veterans.

Mark Doolin had a quite a game, scoring 22 and grabbing 11 rebounds. Jorge Valdez had 17 points and five rebounds, while Aaron Cramer grabbed 12 rebounds, including eight on the offensive end. Isaac Bridges hit four 3-pointers.

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"Anytime you go to Meeker and come away with a win, you're very pleased," Hayden coach Mike Luppes said. "Especially when you do that in limited action without Paul. But a lot of kids stepped up."

Hayden led throughout the first two-plus quarters before trailing 42-38 heading into the fourth quarter.

Meeker got up by as many as seven points before Hayden started to chip away. Going through Valdez and post down the stretch, the Tigers clawed back into the game. Doolin hit four huge free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

The game was for the top spot in the league. And considering what Hayden (12-2) had to overcome, it was the marquee win on the schedule for the Tigers.

The team next plays at 8:30 p.m. Friday at home against West Grand.

"This week was a couple good gut-check basketball games for us," Luppes said. "We showed we can overcome adversity."

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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