Hayden girls competitive, confident under new coach in 2021
For the 2021-22 season, Jeff Schlim is taking over the Hayden Valley High School girls basketball team. For the past three years, Lori Raper has led the team. Last year, the Tigers played just eight games, but the year before, they went 14-9 and made regionals.
The 2021-22 team is ready to get back to that competitive nature with Schlim, who was an assistant for the team last year.
“I took over a program that was well-established by Lori,” Schlim said. “The transition was very smooth. She had the program in top shape, and that on top of me coaching all the girls since sixth grade makes the transition a lot smoother.”
The season started with a scrimmage against the Steamboat Springs High School varsity team last Saturday. The scrimmage showed off a lot of good things on either side of the ball. Hayden is high-energy, fast-paced and gritty. For a scrimmage, the Tigers were working hard and putting in a lot of effort to grab the ball and maintain possession.
“We just wanted to have a good, hard game with our friends here at Steamboat,” Schlim said. “We all know each other, and it’s always easy to get things together like this. It’s not too serious yet. There were some good hustle plays out there, but we weren’t looking to treat it like a real game or anything like that.”
The Tigers looked well conditioned to say the least. Some shots weren’t falling, but that will come with repetition. They moved well together and stifled the Steamboat offense. Sophomore Jenna Kleckler was a sharpshooter from three-point range, while senior Ali Rajzer and junior Bella Svoboda made athletic shots from under the net.
“Our strength is definitely going to be our toughness and grit,” Schlim said. “We’re going to be a defensive team. We’re going to focus on rebounding and playing hard and leaving everything on the court. We don’t have any flashy offensive plays. We’re more old school.”
Junior Ema Schlim said the first scrimmage went really well, but the team has notes for things to address.
Seniors: Katerina Barnes, Alison Rajzer, Kori Deaton, Aveory Lighthizer, Trinity Gonzales, Haley Hockaday
Juniors: Ema Schlim, Bella Simones, Bella Svoboda, Tessa Booco
Sophomores: Hailie Backes, Jenna Kleckler, Josee Smith, Dakota Munden, Emily Rajzer
Senior Aveory Lighthizer is looking forward to facing Soroco High School and Plateau Valley, both typically quick teams that should be a fun matchup for the Tigers.
Hayden plays the Sailors again in Steamboat on Jan. 18 and travels to play Plateau Valley on Feb. 4. The Tigers will also take on Soroco on the road Feb. 11. The first home game is Jan. 8 against North Park.
The bare-bones goals of the team are to stay healthy, improve, be competitive and maybe make the postseason. With larger goals in mind, the team believes it can make regionals — or maybe even state.
“I feel like we can definitely do that,” Lighthizer said. “It’s within our sight.”
For now, they are sticking to small, achievable goals that are easy to measure.
“Just improve chemistry and keep working together,” Ema said.
Dec. 2-4 - Cowboy Shootout
Dec. 17-18 - Center Tournament
Jan. 7 - at Cedaredge, 6 p.m.
Jan. 8 - vs. North Park, 2:30 p.m.
Jan. 13 - at Rangely, 7 p.m.
Jan. 18 - at Steamboat Springs, 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 21 - at Vail Christian, 7 p.m.
Jan. 28 - vs. Olathe, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 4 - at Plateau Valley, 7 p.m.
Feb. 5 - vs. DeBeque, 1 p.m.
Feb. 11 - at Soroco, 7 p.m.
Feb. 12 - at West Grand, 2:30 p.m.
Feb. 18 - vs. Meeker, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 19 - at Caprock Academy, 2:30 p.m.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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