Tigers too much for Moffat JV — again
In a little more than an hour, the Hayden boys basketball team defeated the Moffat County junior varsity for the second time this season.
After letting the Bulldogs stick around for three quarters, the Tigers finally pulled away in the fourth to win, 50-33, on Tuesday.
Hayden coach Shawn Baumgartner doesn’t want his team overlooking any opponents, senior Chris Frentress said, but the Tigers admittedly don’t enjoy playing JV opponents, even those from nearby Craig or Steamboat Springs.
“We’d rather play their varsity,” Frentress said.
Still, the Bulldogs’ JV squad created some problems for the Tigers, mainly on the perimeter where Moffat County proved early and often that it wasn’t shy about shooting from behind the arc.
“They’ve got great shooters,” Baumgartner said. “I thought we did a good job in the first half, we just missed a lot of easy looks. We had an opportunity to put them away in the first quarter.”
Moffat County hung around in the first half, thanks in large part to its outside shooting. With a distinct height disadvantage down low — and out on the wing — the Bulldogs gladly took advantage of their open looks, drilling three 3-pointers in the first 16 minutes.
The game stepped up offensively in the second quarter with senior Evan Hilling scoring six of his 14 first-half points in the final 4 minutes, 24 seconds of the half, as Hayden looked to attack the rim more and use its size. Hilling finished with 20 points.
With games against Soroco and Rangely this weekend, the Tigers will need to be balanced offensively and sure-handed around the rim, considering Rangely post Brian Skelton is one of the state’s best players and Soroco is seeking to avenge a loss from earlier in the season.
On Tuesday, Hayden opened the second half with a 6-2 run, prompting Moffat County JV coach Jeff Simon to call a timeout. The Tigers used 47 seconds on their opening possession of the third quarter, working the ball around the perimeter before senior Levi Sheldon came free down low for a high-percentage turnaround jumper.
The Bulldogs came out of the timeout and found sophomore Evan Hertzog, who had the hot hand for Moffat County most of the game. He scored the Bulldogs’ first eight points of the quarter, including six from behind the arc, and finished with 16.
Moffat County closed the quarter with four quick points to pull to within 38-31.
The Tigers enjoyed the most success when they were patient, worked the ball down low and crashed the offensive boards Tuesday, traits that have a lot to do with Hayden being 12-1 overall this season and 4-0 in Western Slope League play.
But Hayden is prepared to shoot — and make — perimeter shots when needed. That time likely will come as early as Friday, with Soroco bringing more height down low to the game.
“We’re balanced enough we can go inside and out,” Frentress said.
In addition to Hilling’s 20, junior Keenan Bruchez finished with 13, and senior Levi Sheldon added nine points.
Hayden is on an eight-game winning streak, which includes two wins it picked up during the weekend against Paonia and Plateau Valley.
Hayden defeated Paonia, 57-45, and Plateau Valley, 50-34. Hilling scored 23 in an important league win against Paonia, and Bruchez led the Tigers with 25 in a road win against Plateau Valley.
Hayden hosts Soroco at 8 p.m. Friday and travels to defending league champion Rangely for a 4 p.m. game Saturday.
“We play well in that gym,” Frentress said.
— To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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