What may have seemed like a sensational effort to most, was just another day at the office for Cardinal Hayes’ Jeff Hayden.
The 6-foot-4 junior forward put his stamp all over an 85-70 win against host Archbishop Stepinac in CHSAA Class AA boys’ basketball on Jan. 3. Hayden dropped in a team-high 26 points, was all over the offensive glass and scored seemingly at will inside during the second half.
“He never cheats us with his effort,” Cardinal Hayes coach Joe Lods said. “He plays as hard as anyone I’ve seen and he’s really a grinder. If we get him the ball in position to score he scores. He does his job.”
Hayden scored 11 of his points in the third quarter, including the Cardinals first five. Clive Allen scored 25 points and Baron Goodridge added eight for Hayes (5-3, 3-1).
The Cardinals, which led 39-32 at the half and 62-53 after three, took a 66-56 advantage on a bucket from Hayden in the post with 5:47 to go in the game. Lods said they made a conscious effort to get him the ball in the paint. Hayden just did what’s asked of him after that.
“I do whatever to win,” he said. “I just play to win. I don’t mind any role.”
Hayes finally got going in the third quarter. Stepinac (5-4, 1-4) tried to push the pace of the game and it ended up back firing. It allowed Allen, the team’s unquestioned leader, to start being more aggressive offensively. He attacked the basket and made a top of the key three to put the Cardinals up 61-50 with 58 seconds left to play in the frame. Allen didn’t think it was a good strategy to try to out run the Cardinals.
“We like to run the floor a lot,” Allen said. “So I don’t think you want to go in a running contest with us. We don’t get tired.”
Kylan Guerra paced Stepinac with 30 points. Tyrin Miller had 14 points and highly recruited wing Jordan Tucker chipped in 12.
The game is Hayes’ second straight victory after being handled by Christ the King on Dec. 10 in Middle Village. Allen, who was in contestant foul trouble, didn’t play well in that game. The performance only motivated him and his teammates to improve. Hayes is asking a lot of guys to play increases minutes in increased role after losing a strong class of seniors.
“I don’t like losing,” Allen said. “I don’t take it well.”
The Cardinals certainly found a recipe to succeed moving forward with Allen dominating on the perimeter and Hayden having his way inside. Depsite his team’s recent strong play, Lods there is plenty of basketball left.
“It’s a marathon,” Lods said. “We will judge out team at the end instead of one third of the way.”