Hayden girls basketball aims to fix the finer things | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden girls basketball aims to fix the finer things

Hayden High School Tigers

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The big picture basketball things are there, Hayden High School girls basketball coach Michelle Wilkie said.

"It's one of the most cohesive teams I've coached in a really long time," she said. "They're all leaders in their own way, and they've accepted that. They do whatever needs done. They don't quit. They hustle. They're diving on the floor. It's exciting to watch them play, and people see so much potential in these kids."

The finer, more delicate details of the game — OK, mostly making baskets — have continued to elude the Tigers so far this season, however.

"We will run our offense. We can execute the offense," Wilkie said, "but we can't hit the broadside of the barn. We miss our shots."

That's been the squads undoing in several recent games where it played close with strong teams through at least a half only to see things unravel as the game wears on.

Since returning from the holiday break Hayden's lost at Rangely, 47-22, at home against Meeker, 48-28, Vail Christian, 54-40, and Paonia, 39-19.

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The best of those, Wilkie was, was the game Friday night against Vail Christian — a team that's still undefeated on the season. That 40-point output was the team's second best in this season's 11 games and was much better than its 28.8 per-game average so far.

"They were thrilled," she said of her team's response to the game, close into the final minute. "That's the first time I've seen them so excited about how well they played basketball in forever. It was really cool to see them develop."

Everything felt different a day later against Paonia. The Eagles led by just seven at the half, but Hayden couldn't muster much in the second half, and the game quickly slipped away.

Starting two juniors and three sophomores, the Tigers, 2-9 and 0-4, are hoping they can maintain their grasp on the big things and that on-court experience will help build on the finer points.

"We have to continue to get better every week and build on that because they're all going to be back next year," Wilkie said. "That's kind of cool."

Next up for Hayden is a trip to play winless Caprock Academy on Friday.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9.