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Panthers pass Tigers’ test

Rangely holds off Hayden, 40-37

Melinda Mawdsley

Saturday’s game between the Hayden and Rangely boys basketball teams was exactly what everyone expected — a back-and-forth contest that came down to one possession.

Rangely converted. Hayden did not, and the Panthers escaped with a 40-37 win in Rangely.

“We thought it was going to be like this,” Rangely coach Mark Skelton said. “Boy, they were a good team.”

Hayden had the lead through the first half. Behind the three-point shooting of Rangely’s Alex Halcomb and several Hayden turnovers, the Panthers rallied to take the lead, building it to as much as seven points in the fourth quarter before the Tigers came back to take a one-point lead into the final minute.

Rangely senior Brian Skelton was fouled in the final minute, making both free throws, to give the Panthers a one-point lead.

Hayden had the ball with 18 seconds left but turned it over and had to foul. Panther Josh Padilla made two free throws to seal the win.

“I thought we played the best game this group of players has played,” Tigers coach Shawn Baumgartner said. “I think we proved we can play at that top level.”

The Tigers responded by having a good practice Monday, leaving little doubt they still are focused on finishing strong. Mark Skelton is confident Hayden will fare well come postseason time.

“They are a very disciplined team,” he said. “Their coach has done a great job identifying their strengths. They shoot the ball when it’s open, and they are patient. They are legit. I’m sure their coach will keep them fired up.”

Brian Skelton, one of the state’s best players regardless of class, finished with 15 points. Halcomb added 17 to lead the Panthers. Hayden senior Evan Hilling scored 15 and had six rebounds. Senior Levi Sheldon added nine ponts.

The win puts Rangely in good position to repeat as Western Slope League champions, but Hayden, Meeker and Grand Valley remain in the mix. Hayden travels to Grand Valley for a 7 p.m. game Friday. Rangely plays Meeker on Thursday.

— To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com


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