Hayden boys basketball has new coach, roster

Hayden players Angel Valdez, Andrew Kleckler and Ty Blackwell all reach for a loose ball during a game against North Park on Friday night. The three Tigers were part of a six-man senior class that graduated and left an all new roster of players for the 2021-22 Hayden boys basketball team.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

HAYDEN — Last year, the Hayden boys basketball team had six seniors and they spent most of the time on the court. This year, with an almost entirely new roster, the Tigers are in a bit of a rebuilding phase, but optimistic of their abilities.

Senior Logan Morrison said the main goal is to improve from last year, during which a senior-heavy team went 5-8. Morrison said more wins would be an obvious improvement, but he hopes the team just plays better and stays healthy.

“Just work harder, be more efficient and hopefully that’ll lead to more wins,” Morrison said.

The team graduated six seniors who played most of the minutes. Morrison and senior Noah Lind are some key returners, as is sophomore Grady Frentress, who played some varsity minutes last year.

“We got a lot of good shooters on our team,” Lind said. “I think that’s probably one of our biggest strengths.”

Despite not spending a lot of time on the court together last year, Morrison said the team has great chemistry. Transferring that chemistry to the court will be the challenge.

The Tigers’ first chance to do so is in a scrimmage against Steamboat Springs this weekend.

“Even though they’re not in our league, I’m excited to play them to see how far we can push ourselves in the beginning of the season,” Lind said.

Morrison is looking forward to seeing Soroco, which Hayden will play on the road Feb. 11.

The team has a new head coach in Bryan Richards, who was an assistant under Mike Luppes the last few years.

“I think we have a better relationship with him than we had with our previous head coach,” Lind said. “He was our teacher so we’re pretty tight.”

Richards was previously a teacher and athletic director at Hayden High School, but last year took a job with the town of Hayden. He continued to coach under Luppes so he knows the Tigers well.

“I’ve been lucky the last few years to be able to be under Mike, learn, all that for four years under Mike,” Richards said. “That was a lot of time to learn what I want to do and things I don’t want to do. It was a great opportunity and I’m excited to have the opportunity to take the reigns.”

Morrison said he appreciates that Richards holds the team accountable and has an ability to get the best out of each player. Lind added that the new coach is patient and willing to take time to help everyone.

“What I’m most excited about is to help these guys become better basketball players,” Richards said. “Ultimately, a lot of the things we’re teaching are more about building character in life and persistence and discipline. That’s really what our focus is.”

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