Hayden girls are a balanced, poised team | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden girls are a balanced, poised team

The Hayden girls basketball team practices on a snowy evening in December.
Shelby Reardon

HAYDEN — The 2019-20 season as gone great so far for the Hayden High School girls basketball team. The team went 4-0 to win the Manila tournament the first weekend of December. 

Second-year head coach Lori Raper said it was team chemistry and a balanced effort that allowed her team to succeed.

“We really talked about opening up the court, so it gives us more opportunity for spacing. Our spacing is spectacular,” she said. “Our communication on the court was great on defense and offense. These kids, this year, have no fear of taking the ball to the hoop.”

After losing just one senior in Paige Barnes, the team has tons of returners. Seniors Alex Camilletti, Joey Deckler and Hailee Smith, who all just played volleyball together, are joined by classmate Rae Smith on a roster that is extremely close.

“Coming into this year, we’re trying to work on a family aspect, especially since we have four seniors,” Camilletti said. “I think it’s going to be a really strong year since we’re so close with everyone.”

Even the newcomers are fitting right in. Freshman Emma Seagraves is expected to be a contributor this year, as well as freshman Tessa Booco.

“I think we’re honestly getting better and better every practice,” said Booco. “Sometimes, we have rough times, that always happens, but every time, it seems we grow closer together as a team.”

Despite being a freshman, Booco said she’s confident on the court and even considers herself a leader. 

Hayden girls basketball schedule:

  • 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

When she returns from a knee injury she suffered last year, junior Gracie Day will bring athleticism and experience. Raper has high hopes for sophomore Allison Rajzer, too. 

“She was my sixth man coming off of the bench last year,” Raper said of Rajzer. “She’s an avid offensive and defensive target. She’s got a lot of speed on the court.”

Camilletti led the team in scoring often last winter and paced the team in Manila. Her 5-foot-9 frame makes her one of the tallest Tigers on the court with a wide wing span. She also contributes mentally. 

“She also sees the court super well,” Raper said. “She can handle the ball. She brings confidence and calmness to the court even though she plays so aggressive.”

That being said, she doesn’t want the team to rely on her and to spread the offense around. Raper gives her girls free will to shoot whatever shot they deem the best at the time, so she doesn’t expect offense to be lacking. 

On the other end of the court, the Tigers will run a man defense, implementing a full-court press in which they pressure their opponent the full length of the court, rather than waiting for them to reach the middle. 

Last winter, Hayden either won by quite a bit or lost by a lot. There were just two close losses all season against Rangely and Vail Christian. This year, Raper hopes her team can turn tight contests into wins and not let games get away from them.

“Just letting them play, it really shows their determination and what they want,” Raper said. “They could be unstoppable if everything goes our way, and they keep working hard and don’t take anything for granted.”

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.

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