Fast start paces Tigers win against Panthers |

Fast start paces Tigers win against Panthers

Luke Graham

— Hayden basketball coach Stephanie Davis knows it’s how a team ends a game – or a season – that matters most.

But after a 51-41 win against Rangely, it’s conceivable that not too many teams will be able to hang with the Tigers when they start the game like they did on Friday.

Hayden scored 24 points in the first quarter on 10-of-13 shooting from the field, forced eight turnovers and had four different players score more than five points. The Tigers also hit three 3-pointers, including two from senior guard Lauren Frentress to end the first quarter.

When it was all said and done, Hayden took a 24-10 lead into the second quarter.

“We have been shooting the ball a lot because we need to make those elbow shots,” Davis said. “Tonight we were on fire.”

The Tigers’ torrid pace slowed down in the last three quarters – they were even outscored 31-27 by the Panthers – but the first quarter proved to be too much for Rangely to overcome.

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Using a full-court press, Hayden quickly jumped on Rangely 16-4 just 4 minutes, 37 seconds into the game. After the Panthers had cut the lead to 18-8, Frentress hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the last 25 seconds of the first half.

Hayden extended its lead to 35-19 heading into halftime behind five points from Holli Salazar and four from Kylee Sweetser.

By the start of the fourth quarter, the Panthers had cut the lead to 10 at 43-33, but Rangely would get no closer thanks to the full-court pressure of Hayden.

The Tigers forced 23 turnovers in the game including six in the fourth quarter.

Davis is still juggling her lineups to see which ones are most effective.

“I am still learning how to work different subs in,” she said. “That’s part of the preseason thing I am working on.”

Emily Whiteman paced the Tigers with 15 points. Sweetser had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Jessica Martin added 10 points, four rebounds, five assists and three steals.

With the win, the Tigers moved to 3-2 overall. Rangely is a league foe, but the game didn’t count toward the league standings.

Still, Hayden players said they sent a message to the rest of the league.

“It feels good,” Whiteman said, who added six rebounds and five blocks. “Last year we weren’t as strong at the beginning of the year. It’s good to start out strong but we need to keep our heads level.”