Steamboat Springs Things could have gone better this season for the Hayden High School girls basketball team, but Saturday, things came together the way coach Michelle Wilkie had been hoping all season they could.
The Tigers defended their home court on senior day and blasted Plateau Valley, 54-33.
“The kids came out and played really well,” Wilkie said. “We had a couple of rough weeks, and we changed some stuff up, executed an offensive scheme and played great defense.”
The win came after the team had dropped nine of 10 games in those “rough weeks.” The Tigers missed athletes for a few games in that span with illness, but more than anything, the team simply wasn’t clicking. It came to a head Friday with a 38-35 loss on the road at North Park, one of the teams Hayden had already beaten this season.
“Those are the ones that hurt,” Wilkie said. “That would have been an easy one to win. We should have had it in the bag.”
A day later, however, the team looked entirely different, playing an aggressive defense and scoring with an offense both opportunistic and patient.
Eight players got in on the scoring, one of the team’s most diverse offensive outputs of the season, and the team’s four seniors — Jessika Hockett, Brooke Munden, Darian Murphy and Grace Wilkie — all shined at different moments in their final home game.
“They all contributed, whether they scored or were rebounding,” Michelle Wilkie said. “It was a good way to end our home games.”
Grace Wilkie scored 18 to lead the team. Darian Murphy had 11.
Next up for the Tigers is a trip Friday to play on the road at De Beque. That was a win that could have been penciled in in the past, but the Dragons have improved their program and played much better this season. After winning four games the past two seasons, they’ve won 6 this year.
“They’re tough. They started building that program several years ago, and they have kids who are talented, so we need to go out and play just as well as we did Saturday,” Wilkie said. “We want to finish the regular season on a highlight.”
Hayden, 5-12 overall and 3-7 in the league, will then dive into the district tournament, where it will likely play in one of the pigtail games early in the week.
“We’re very pleased. Would we have liked to have been better this season? Yes, but with that said, we have to focus on what these kids have accomplished,” Wilkie said. “We’ve laid an egg sometimes, but we’ve played a lot of good games. We’ve gone from getting beat by 30 in games the last few seasons to only losing by a few points in a lot of games. I have to be happy about that.”
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9