O-and-no mo’ as Hayden boys basketball snaps 40-game streak
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Usually, a five-point win after a long weekend of basketball and just before a marathon ride on a school bus isn’t the kind of win a team goes out of its way to celebrate beyond some high fives at the buzzer and a “good job” talk from the coach in the locker room.
But few wins are as sweet as the one the Hayden High School boys basketball team earned Saturday at the end of a tournament in Manila, Utah, so the team’s enthusiasm is understandable.
The Tigers beat the Kemmerer, Wyoming, Rangers on Saturday, 52-47, to snap a 40-game losing streak.
“They were a pretty excited group of kids,” coach Mike Luppes said.
The best evidence of that, besides the on-the-court celebration right afterward? Every player opted to ride the bus back to Hayden with the team — a four-hour ride.
“We had a long bus ride, and every single boy was on that bus. No one chose to ride with parents,” Luppes said. “It was a big weight lifted off their shoulders to get that win. It’s been a long time coming for some of those guys.”
Hayden’s last win prior to Saturday came Feb. 14, 2015. The Tigers lost one more game that season then struggled through back-to-back winless seasons. They started this winter’s season 0-5, as well.
“Some of them were starting as sophomores. Now, they’re seniors, and they’d never won a varsity game,” Luppes said. “It was big for them.”
Luppes coached the team from 2008 to 2014 and now is in his first season back coaching. He said he’s already seen major progress from his players.
“One of the things that has changed is the passion, the aggressiveness, the fire and playing with emotion,” Luppes said. “When you’re in that kind of losing streak, you forget about that sometimes, but that’s so important, and it’s as much a part of basketball as anything.”
Alan Aguirre scored 22 in the game. William Lighthizer scored 10 and Patrick Hunter nine.
Hayden topped Saturday’s 52 points only once during its 40-game losing streak.
“Score a few more points, and it’s a little easier to make other things happen,” Luppes said. “We were pushing the ball a lot, getting some steals, and we made some shots.”
The Tigers are now off until Jan. 5, 2018, with they travel to play at Rangely, where they’ll be playing for something they haven’t tasted in even longer — a winning streak.
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