Day’s night: Hayden junior makes emotional return after injury
HAYDEN — When Hayden High School junior Gracie Day stepped into the game, the crowd stood and cheered. She embraced sophomore Ali Rajzer and freshman Emma Seagraves as she took her spot on the floor.
In a camp last June, Day injured her right knee and Friday, Jan. 17, was her return. She came off the bench and scored 2 points in the Tigers 38-33 win.
“It’s been 208 days since I’ve played. It was crazy,” she said. “Last time I played, I was still a starter. Not being able to start has taken me out of my game. I was so nervous and kind of scared to get hurt again.”
Day’s first point didn’t come until later in the game. After senior Alex Camilletti stole the ball from the Eagles, she bounced the ball to Day underneath the basket. Her shot hit the rim and bounced back, but she drew a foul in the process.
With 5:48 left in the third quarter, Day scored for the first time in months.
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Up to that point, the junior had missed a few shots, all that hit the rim and refused to tip towards the net.
“I don’t think I was in my game tonight,” she admitted. “Hopefully, as I keep going in my season, it’ll get better.”
With an 8-5 lead after the first quarter, the Tigers broke away in the second. Camilletti opened the frame with a 3-pointer. Another deep shot from senior Joey Deckler extended the lead and sophomore Aveory Lighthizer used a last-second layup to bring the advantage to 20-12 at the half.
The Eagles fought back in the third. After Day’s free throw made it 23-17, Paonia netted four straight to cut the lead to 23-21. A steal and breakaway basket from senior Carly Horn closed the gap completely with two minutes left in the third.
The teams remained tied for a long time. The first two and a half minutes of the final frame featured far too many turnovers and an abundance of fouls.
“I think sometimes they get too excited or lay back a little bit thinking they need to calm down. For some reason, it just doesn’t work well,” said Hayden head coach Lori Raper. “Their intensity is always on, but sometimes that causes them to foul more.”
With three minutes left, the squads were tied at 30. The teams exchanged free throws and Hayden came out on top 38-33, led by Camilletti’s 19 points.
The Tigers had been doing alright without Day, as they entered the contest ranked No. 16 in the 2A RPI standings, but Raper said there is a difference with Day in the mix.
“Always,” she said. “I’ve missed her a lot.”
Hayden 38, Paonia 33
P 5 7 13 8
H 8 12 5 13
Scoring: P, Tawny Roberts 10, Payton Fister 8. H, Alex Camilletti 19, Emma Seagraves 7 Joey Deckler 3, Tessa Booco 3, Gracie Day 2, Aveory Lighthizer 2, Alison Rajzer 1, Katerina Barnes 1. Fouls: P, 26. H, 20. FTs: P, 7-25. H, 14-35.
- Dec. 6-7: Hayden at Manila Tournament, 1st 4-0
- Dec. 13-14: Hayden at Encampment Tournament, 2-1
- Dec. 17: North Park at Hayden, W 49-25
- Jan. 11: Rangely at Hayden, L 41-38
- Jan. 17: Paonia at Hayden, W 38-33
- Jan. 18: Hotchkiss at Hayden, 4 p.m.
- Jan. 23: Baggs at Hayden, 7 p.m.
- Jan. 24: Hayden at Soroco, L 65-43
- Jan. 25: Hayden at Plateau Valley, W 44-30
- Feb. 1: Hayden at West Grand, W 37-27
- Feb. 11: Vail Christian at Hayden, W 45-39
- Feb. 14: Hayden at Caprock, W 81-12
- Feb. 15: De Beque at Hayden, W 59-22
- Feb. 21: Hayden at Meeker, L 54-38
- Feb. 25: Plateau Valley at Hayden, W 55-32
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