No. 19 Hayden girls basketball advances to state tournament this weekend |

No. 19 Hayden girls basketball advances to state tournament this weekend

With hands in her face, Hayden senior Tessa Booco goes up for two points in a girls basketball game against Soroco on Jan. 28, 2023. Booco has helped lead the Tigers to earn a spot in the state tournament as the No. 19 seed. The team will go up against Sanford in the first round on Friday, March 3, in Burlington.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Hayden girls basketball earned a spot in the Colorado High School Activities Association 2A State Tournament with a No. 19 ranking and is pinned against No. 14 Sanford for the opening round on Friday, March 3, in Burlington. 

The Tigers are coming off a league tournament semifinal loss to Plateau Valley, 34-32. Head coach Jeff Schlim says the loss pushed the team back a few spots in the rankings. 

Schlim believes this is the best team he has ever coached and thinks despite the No. 19 ranking, the girls can compete with any team they go up against. 

“The girls are interested in what they can do to be their best and are trying to work on some plays,” Schlim said. “They are really excited and they are doing everything they can both by watching film and having good Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday practices. We’re going to leave Friday for the long haul across the state to Burlington.”

Starting the tournament against Sanford is an exciting opportunity for Schlim and the Tigers. Hayden had the chance to play Sanford at a tournament in Denver earlier in the season, losing 35-23.

Schlim says it will be a great chance to exact revenge and show what kind of progress the team has made since mid-December. 

“Sanford is quick and tall,” Schlim said. “They play a fast-paced game, they’re well coached with playoff experience. Our goal this week is to speed things up a little bit and get them focused for Friday.”

Senior Isabella Svoboda goes up for a jumper surrounded by Soroco defenders in a Hayden girls basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat Pilot & Today

With a faster tempo, limiting turnovers and sticking to the fundamentals on both sides of the ball, Schlim believes the girls have every ability to advance past the weekend. 

Hayden’s senior group of Tessa Booco, Ema Schlim, Bella Simones and Isabella Svoboda have made it clear they do not want the season to end on Friday. The girls know the next loss will end their high school basketball careers and coach Schlim says they seem more driven to win than ever. 

A win on Friday would put the girls back on the court the following day, Saturday, March 4, against the winner of No. 3 Burlington and No. 30 Sargent. As one of the highest seeds, Burlington plays host to a few teams for the first two rounds before the tournament shifts to Loveland for the Great Eight and beyond.

The girls have no playoff experience in their back pockets, so Jeff Schlim has made it his mission to keep the girls mentally tough and prepared for their biggest game to date. 

Schlim has coached so many of his players since they were in middle school and he said this has been a long-term project finally coming to fruition this year. 

“I’m confident in the girls,” Jeff Schlim said. “They haven’t reached their full potential yet and I’m hopeful they are confident enough in themselves to come out and play like I know they are capable of playing.”

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