Tigers roll past Saints, 88-72
EDWARDS – The court, the grandstand and the sidelines are all blue in Vail Christian’s gym, but the glass Tuesday night was all but painted black and orange.
Hayden rolled into town Tuesday and smothered Vail Christian on the boards on its way to an 88-72 win.
“That’s one of our strengths, our rebounding and inside play,” Tigers coach Mike Luppes said. “I haven’t seen the rebounding totals yet, but I would guess that we had a pretty decided edge there. That’s something we have to do to be successful.”
The massive rebounding advantage enabled Hayden multiple chances on the offensive end of the court, To wit, Hayden’s Mark Doolin scored a career-high 31 points.
“We were dominant on the boards,” Doolin said. “They were easy shots. I got a lot of those.”
And offensive rebounds by Hayden limited Vail Christian’s ability to run and score on transition, though the two teams did burn out a few scoreboard bulbs combining for 160 points in just 32 minutes.
“That was a track meet,” Luppes said. “When we play Vail Christian, we can generally count on points being put up. That’s something we both can do. Now, the defensive end leaves a little bit to be desired.”
But if one team had to be concerned about its defense it was the Saints. Vail Christian, which has had no problem scoring points the last few years, appeared to be trending in the right way defensively this season to date. Coming into Tuesday’s game, the Saints had allowed 50 points per game.
That average went up a bit with great balance by the Tigers, especially in the first half. Tigers guard Paul Laliberte was on fire from beyond the arc and finished with 26 points.
“We need to play inside-out, and we did that in the first half,” Luppes said. “Kick the ball in and kick it out. We were hitting the 3s tonight, which is always great. Those posts have to be the focal point of our offense.”
And that cut up Vail Christian and gave the Saints serious problems on the glass.
“We’ve actually done a good job rebounding this year, and, for whatever reason, we stopped rebounding,” Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns said. “We didn’t have Zach (Linder), who’s our leading rebounder, and that hurt us. But Hayden really hit the glass hard and we did not match their intensity on the glass.”
As is usual, Vail Christian backcourt went off with Robby Bowles scoring 23, and Fernando Hernandez 22.
Hayden (9-5) hosts Plateau Valley Friday before heading out to Paonia Saturday. Meanwhile Vail Christian (7-6) is at North Park Thursday and then home for DeBeque Saturday.
“We bounced back from a tough loss on Thursday last week to a nice win on Saturday,” Kuhns said. “The team has shown resiliency in the past. I think we’ve got to be resilient and keep going.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.
Hayden 22 24 20 22 – 88
Saints 13 19 13 27 – 72
Hayden: Mark Doolin 31; Paul Laliberte 26
Saints: Robby Bowles 23; Fernando Hernandez 22
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