Hayden girls basketball falls to Paonia | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden girls basketball falls to Paonia

Hayden squad to play Rangely on Saturday for 3rd place

Hayden's Amber Sather tries to drive the ball between a pair of Paonia defenders Friday. The Eagles dialed up their defense in the second half to surge past the upset-minded Tigers during the district basketball tournament in Kremmling.

— There was a point midway through the third quarter Friday night when members of the Hayden High School girls basketball team walked down the court and had the look of pure exhaustion. 

At the same time, Paonia coach Scott Rienks turned to his bench and inserted five new girls, and the Eagles kept on running all the way to a 66-52 win in the opening round of the District 5 basketball tournament. 

And that's just the way the Eagles play, going 10 deep, sometimes subbing five girls at a time and keeping every player fresh. 

"We know by the fourth quarter we'll wear teams down," Rienks said. "That's what we do. We shoot a lot of shots, and we shoot them quick so teams have to play fast with us."

It worked to perfection Friday. 

Hayden gave Paonia all it could handle for 22 minutes, even outclassing the Eagles for much of the first half. 

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The Tigers led 14-9 after one quarter and were up 29-21 with 1 minute, 56 seconds left in the first half. Hayden used a 1-2-2 zone to stifle Paonia's perimeter game early on, forcing long shots. 

"We only introduced it to them Wednesday night," Hayden coach Michelle Wilkie said about the zone.

But signs of fatigue already had started setting in near the half. The Eagles closed the quarter on a 9-2 run to make it 31-30 heading into the half. 

The two teams traded blows to begin the third quarter before Hayden took a 37-33 lead at the 5:20 mark of the third. 

But that's when Hayden started to hit a wall. 

"During the middle of the third quarter, I could feel all of us getting tired," said Hayden senior Jenn Bugg, who had seven points off the bench. "We were getting frustrated."

The Eagles took advantage, closing the quarter on a 16-5 run to take a 49-42 lead into the fourth quarter. 

The Tigers never would get any closer, and the Eagles continued to make it a track meet. 

"We played three quarters of a game," Wilkie said. "But we can't run with them. They wore us out. The kids did great and then got too tired."

Erin Koehler led the Tigers with 20 points. Paonia had four players score in double figures, led by 13 points from Sam Dutton. 

Hayden plays for third place at 11 a.m. Saturday against Rangely. If Hayden wins, it will play in the regional tournament at Standley Lake High School. A loss would put the Tigers at Metro State College. 

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

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