Hayden girls hoops hopes to build with youth
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Hayden High School girls basketball team has slogged through four consecutive seasons without a winning record, but coach Michelle Wilkie said, a shift could be on the horizon.
Maybe that doesn’t mean a return to the program’s highest heights this season, but, with a committed group of young, skilled players, Wilkie’s bullish on the Tigers’ fortunes, and she’s expecting that group to help the team take a step forward this season.
“It’s going to be a process,” Wilkie said, “but I’m seeing things from these kids I haven’t seen from when I took over the program six years ago. I see that kind of a spark in this young group of kids.”
Hayden will start the season with a three-state tour to various weekend tournaments. First up is a trip Friday and Saturday to play in a four-team event in Kiowa. The Tigers will open up against the hosts at 7 p.m. Friday. They’ll play Saturday against either Limon or Dayspring Christian Academy.
Hayden will travel the following weekend for a tournament in Wyoming, then the weekend after that for a tournament in Utah, all before launching into their league schedule in January.
“We want to play some teams we haven’t seen before we get into league play, so that’s why we’re traveling,” Wilkie said.
Her team will still be young when league play starts — five of the top six returning scorers were freshmen or sophomores a year ago — but she’s hoping they’ll have some strong varsity action already under their belts.
Sophomores Hannah Wilkie, Joey Deckler and Alex Camilletti will provide size for the team down low. Juniors Allison Ingols, Paige Barnes and Faith Day will provide experience up top and, Michelle Wilkie said, several freshmen could be vying for time, as well. The team also returns three seniors adding a dash of veteran experience to the otherwise young crew.
“We’re young, but with these young ones, I’m excited because they have that drive to persevere and get done what needs to get done,” Wilkie said. “We have had amazing practices with them. They’re fun, competitive and they have a lot of skill.”
The team won three of its final four games a year ago, nearly doubling its win total in what was a seven-win season. This year, the Tigers are hoping to take a bigger step forward.
“We have a lot of stuff to work on,” Wilkie said, “but I’m optimistic.”
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