Hayden girls basketball roars in home victory | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden girls basketball roars in home victory

Koehler cashes in for 32 points, 13 rebounds against Plateau Valley

Hayden senior Jenn Bugg fends off Plateau Valley players after scooping up a steal in Friday's 63-36 win.

A crushing second- and third-quarter run against Plateau Valley on Friday was plenty enough for the Hayden High School girls basketball team to bounce back from a home loss last weekend.

The team's offense was dominating, and its defense was gritty. It turned out to be a 63-36 win against the Cowboys and exactly the kind of tuneup the Tigers were looking for before Saturday's game at ever-excellent Paonia.

"It's always a good game with Paonia," Hayden senior Aubree Haskins said. "Every year, our goal is always to beat Paonia."

Paonia has owned the basketball series against Hayden, but the Tigers took pride in knocking the Eagles from the district volleyball tournament in the fall and are eager to expand upon to that toe-hold on the hardcourt.

That will be difficult. Paonia nearly perfects the full-court press with its extremely deep bench and bevy of lightning-quick guards. The team is 12-1 this year, every one of those wins coming by double digits.

"We have to be quick and play good defense," Haskins said. "We have to play the game our way."

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If Hayden, 10-4, can fire up its offense Saturday like it did Friday night, anything's possible.

On Friday, the Tigers were machine-esque as they pulled away from the Cowboys after earning a 23-15 first-quarter lead.

At times this season, the Hayden offense has been more like a slot machine. Pull the lever and sometimes huge points come up from beyond the arch, from driving guards or from Hayden's talented forwards. But sometimes, a whole lot of missed shots come up.

On Friday, the attack centered on senior forward Erin Koehler, and it worked more like a change machine. Put a dollar in, four quarters come out. Lob a ball in, two points go up.

She finished with 32 points, sinking 15 baskets and both of her free throws. She also grabbed 13 rebounds.

"It was awesome," Haskins said about Koehler's big night. "You just try and feed her the ball."

Nine Tigers scored in one of the team's deepest efforts this season. Sophomore Jenn Bugg drained a 3-point shot as time expired in the first half, a basket that came early in a 31-11 run that took the game from single digits to bench-clearing substitutions. Haskins had 10 rebounds. Brette Frentress had seven assists, and Olivia Zehner had six steals.

If it's all that easy again Saturday, the Tigers could be celebrating an enormous win.

"It's just another game. That's how we have to look at it," Hayden coach Michelle Wilkie said. "Maybe we will have the best game of our season and win another game."

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

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