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Passion, heart, seniors can drive Hayden girls

The Hayden High School girls basketball team and coach Michelle Wilkie will lean on four seniors and a handful of experienced underclassmen as it tries to build toward a winning record this season.
Joel Reichenberger

2016-17 Hayden girls basketball schedule

Dec. 2 at Kiowa tournament

Dec. 3 at Kiowa tournament

Dec. 9 at Carbon County Classic, Encampment, Wyoming

Dec. 10 at Carbon County Classic, Encampment, Wyoming

Dec. 16 vs. North Park, 7 p.m.

Jan. 6 vs. Rangely, 7 p.m.

Jan. 7 at Meeker, 2:30 p.m.

Jan. 13 vs. Vail Christian, 7 p.m.

Jan. 14 at Paonia, 2:30 p.m.

Jan. 20 vs. Caprock Academy, 7 p.m.

Jan. 27 vs. Hotchkiss, 7 p.m.

Jan. 28 at West Grand, 7 p.m.

Feb. 10 at North Park, 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 17 at De Beque, 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 23-25 at district tournament, De Beque

— The end of the Hayden High School girls volleyball season may have seemed utterly irrelevant to the basketball season for some, but Tigers’ girls hoops coach Michelle Wilkie was there as the volleyball team lost its final match, a grueling, gritty five-set match to Vail Christian, seeded considerably higher, in the district tournament.

“They were fighting,” Wilkie said. “I saw them fight for something they wanted. They didn’t tuck tail and run.”

It’s a different sport, but many of the same girls, and now Wilkie is hoping to build on that spirit as the team prepares to start the basketball season.

Hayden opens play Friday with a trip to Kiowa to play in a two-day tournament, and Wilkie is planning to see the same kind of tenacity she saw several months ago on the basketball court.

“I want to build on that enthusiasm,” she said. “I’m taking what I saw at the end of the volleyball season and capitalizing on that fight.”

She’s got a class of four seniors to help her do it.

Leading the way will be Darian Murphy, one of those seniors as the team’s leading scorer a year ago. Grace Wilkie, another senior who’s missed chunks of the last two seasons with knee injuries, will also be a major factor now that she’s back fully healthy.

Brooke Munden and Jessika Hockett are also both back and have logged big minutes in previous seasons.

Down the roster, Kyra Bennett, a junior, has been one of the team’s top players, as has freshman Alison Ingols and both will be looked to for added impact this season. Then, Michelle Wilkie said she’s got a trio of tall freshman — 5-foot-9 Joey Deckler, 5-9 Hannah Wilkie and 5-8 Alex Camilletti.

“With those wingspans and big hangs, I figure by mid-season they’ll really be working for us,” Wilkie said.

It adds up to a team she’s hoping can improve on last year’s 6-13 record. What’s the basis of that hope? It’s a doggedly determined volleyball fight she saw in the fall.

“If our heart and fight and drive is there, we’ll be able to compete,” Wilkie said. “Those four seniors, they’ve been playing together since they were in seventh grade, and I want them to have a season they’ll remember. It hasn’t always been roses, rainbows and unicorns, but they’ve been together and they deserve it.”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9


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