Hayden girls basketball narrowly escapes Soroco | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden girls basketball narrowly escapes Soroco

Luke Graham

Hayden senior Erin Koehler takes a shot during the first half of Tuesday night's district playoff game against Soroco in Hayden. The Tigers held on in the closing seconds of the thrilling contest to escape with a 52-51 victory.

— Now, that is a rivalry game — the grandeur, both sides decked out and the gym so loud no one could hear.

And unlike the first two matchups between the Hayden High School and Soroco High School girls basketball teams, this one lived up to the billing. 

In the end, Hayden did just enough, withstood a blistering Soroco second half and pulled away for a 52-51 win. 

The win puts Hayden into the second part of the district tournament Friday and Saturday in West Grand. Hayden most likely will play top seed Paonia on Friday. The loss ends Soroco's season. 

"A win is a win at this point," said Tigers coach Michelle Wilkie, whose team will play the next two weekends. "If we would have panicked late, we would have shut down."

Each team had chances to win. 

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Hayden led most of the first half and led by as much as nine, at 27-18, late in the first half. But anytime it looked like the Tigers would break it open, the Rams would get back into the game. 

Soroco closed the third quarter on a 6-0 run to narrow the lead to 44-40 going into the final quarter. 

The Rams then opened the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run to take a 47-44 lead with 4 minutes, 54 seconds left. 

Hayden senior forward Erin Koehler then scored back-to-back baskets to give Hayden a 49-47 lead. 

The teams traded baskets again, with the Tigers holding onto a 52-51 lead with 5.3 seconds remaining.

The Rams drew a play up to get senior guard Madison George in the lane, but George lost control and was called for a carry. 

The game, however, never should have come to that. Soroco missed 10 free throws in the final quarter and was just 17 of 35 in the game. 

"Free throws," Soroco coach David Bruner said. "That's that. We knew we were going to have to be aggressive on the offensive end. But it's hard to win games when you miss that many free throws."

Koehler led all scorers with 18 points, including seven in the final four minutes of the fourth quarter. Lindsay Miles led the Rams with 16, and George had 14. 

"It turned into a fun game," Koehler said. "We have quiet confidence. We know what to expect. We just tried to keep our composure and think about the next play."

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

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