Hayden nets pair of wins against Soroco | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden nets pair of wins against Soroco

Dave Shively

— When the Hayden High School girls and boys basketball teams met Soroco’s squads Friday night for a back-to-back pair of league games, bodies were colliding.

In the boys’ game and then in the girls’, the constant sound of referee whistles forced coaches to adjust lineups and unlikely heroes to emerge. In both cases, the Tigers came out on top with 10-point victories, as the girls won, 63-53, and the boys followed suit at 65-55.

The girls game saw both teams trading hot streaks in a tight back-and-forth contest. With Hayden’s Holli Salazar in early foul trouble, Hayden’s Rachael Koehler stepped up, grabbing a string of offensive rebounds and scoring eight second-quarter points. Hayden’s Kylee Sweetser nailed a 3-pointer to put a cap on the Tigers 7-0 run to end the first half with a 30-20 lead.

But the Rams answered with a 10-0 streak of their own in the third quarter. Glenda Long grabbed a steal, converted the layup and then hooked up with Sarajane Rossi for a sleek give-and-go handoff on the ensuing possession. Kelsey Samuelson converted a 3-point play to regain the lead.

But for every Soroco High School steal and outside jumper, Hayden had an answer in the paint, constantly finding ways to reach the foul line.

“That game was won and lost at the foul line,” Soroco coach Danelle Rivera said. “We had to foul to stop the clock from running. We couldn’t keep the momentum, and they hit the key shots.”

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With two minutes to go, Hayden pulled away from a 51-51 tie with a 12-2 run – scoring exclusively from the line – to secure the win.

“That last two minutes felt like half an hour,” Long said.

Hayden shot 23-31 from the line in the second half. Sweetser lead the Tigers with 15 points, Koehler had 13 and Elaine Cromie, Salazar and Caitlin Mahanna all finished with 9.

“This win was a big deal,” Hayden coach Stephanie Davis said, citing the Tigers loss to the Rams on Dec. 20. “I was proud of how when people key in on our points leader (Salazar), the rest of the team can play quality, team ball.”

Samuelson led Soroco with 17 points and Rossi had 15.

“I think it will put the fire under us for a league win (today) versus Paonia,” Long said. “It’s our last home game and it makes it better that they have to get off the bus and not us.”

The Soroco girls face Paonia at 2:30 p.m. today and the boys play at 4 p.m. The Hayden games scheduled for today at West Grand have both been canceled.

In Friday night’s boys match-up, Hayden also had two of their top posts, Murphy Smartt and Brad Parrott, get into foul trouble early, only to see Chuck Hines and Zach Barnes step up to make plays on the inside.

With Barnes – who finished with 13 points – hitting from the inside and Jordan Williams hitting shots from the perimeter while leading all scorers with 22 points, Hayden jumped to an early six-point lead and extended it through the second quarter.

Cody Miles nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to start the second half and bring Soroco within eight points. As the game became more physical, Soroco found ways to get the foul line and deliver, but Hayden’s full-court pressure continued yielding turnovers as the Tigers held onto to the lead.

“This is a tough gym to play in,” Hayden coach Robin Lighthizer said. “Soroco is so scrappy that to come out of here with a win is a plus.”

Miles finished with 15 points, Alex Estes chipped in 12 and Robert Anderson had 11 points.