Holli Salazar, left, and Caitlin Mahanna walk off the court Saturday when the Tigers beat Limon to advance to state.

Richard "Festus" Hagins

Holli Salazar, left, and Caitlin Mahanna walk off the court Saturday when the Tigers beat Limon to advance to state.

Hayden heading to state

Tigers girls defeat Limon to advance from regionals


Hayden girls basketball, 2008-09

— Hayden is going to state.

The girls high school basketball team won its regional tournament game Saturday afternoon, knocking off Limon in the championship game to advance to next weekend's Great 8 state basketball tournament.

Hayden won, 57-42.

"It's indescribable," Hayden coach Eric Hamilton said by phone after the game. "It has a lot to do with senior leadership and just how bad the girls wanted this. We've been talking about making it to state since last summer.

"They just weren't going to be denied."

The path to the state tournament was far from easy for the Tigers. They went winless last week in the district tournament, two losses that seemed to spoil the season. The weekend dropped the team to the fourth seed in its four-team regional bracket.

Hayden's hopes appeared dim Friday, too, in the opening-round game of the regional tournament. It took overtime, then a clutch steal by Caitlin Mahanna with five seconds remaining for the Tigers to emerge with the season-saving victory.

Only Saturday did Hayden appear destined to advance to the final stage of the Class 2A state basketball tournament.

The Tigers had a 13-2 lead after one quarter. Although Limon narrowed the gap to six at halftime, it was all Hayden in the second half. The Tigers - led by Holli Salazar's 17 points - surged and led by 23 points late in the fourth quarter before Hamilton emptied the bench.

"We really played well," Hamilton said. "We had very few mistakes and unbelievable defense. Limon is such a great team. To just come out and dominate them and control them was unbelievable."

Hamilton said a patient offense yielded big results. Kylee Sweetser nailed four 3-point shots and finished with 14 points, while Rachael Koehler scored 10.

"We came out on fire," Hamilton said.

The win thrusts the Tigers into the Great 8 against seven teams still alive in Class 2A. The three-day tournament begins Thursday. Hayden's first-round opponent will be announced today.

"I knew this team could do it," Hamilton said. "If we play like we did, we can beat anyone in the state."


Craig_gal 8 years, 1 month ago

Is this the first time at state for Hayden girls? either way I say congratulations and this is fantastic, way to go girls!!


calvinhobbs 8 years, 1 month ago

Great job Hayden and Coach's. Wow, also 3 teams of the 8 are from the western slope in AA. Hayden, Meeker and Paonia good luck girls


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