Palisade’s Hayden not just a perimeter shooter this season

Palisade HS hoopster Jeremy Hayden.

Jeremy Hayden was comfortable with his role as a sophomore last season on the Palisade High School boys basketball team.

Playing in coach Keenan Clement’s dribble-drive offense, Hayden’s main responsibility was to run around the perimeter and shoot 3-pointers. Hayden filled that role so well, more than half of
Hayden’s points from the 2007-08 season came off of the deep ball.

“Last year I was only a scorer,” Hayden said. “Coach Clement had me run around the perimeter and shoot it.”

Still, he was not looked to as one of the Bulldogs’ main scorers. He had a few big games, but for the most part, allowed others to make the plays.

“I don’t always look to shoot because that is not my thing,” Hayden said. “I like to pass the ball. Clement last year would get mad at me every single practice because I wouldn’t shoot the ball.”

With Clement leaving for the Front Range after last season and eight seniors gone from last year’s team, things have changed. Hayden fills a much bigger role in new head coach Steve Phillips’ system.

“This year I have to do a lot more for the team,” Hayden said. “I have to think about a lot more when I am on the court.”

Hayden and Jake Edmiston are the Bulldogs’ top offensive threats. The two have combined to score nearly half of the Bulldogs’ 378 points so far this season. And although Edmiston has been a more consistent scorer for Palisade, averaging 11.1 points per game to Hayden’s 10.6,  Hayden has had his share of big games.

Hayden was shut out in two of Palisade’s first eight games but in the other six he has scored in double figures, including a 16-point performance against Aspen. Hayden went for a season-high 22 points Tuesday night against Montrose.

“Jeremy is a great shooter, has great work ethic and works his tail off,” Phillips said. “He is a leader like Jake Edmiston, where they lead by their work ethic.”

Hayden struggled early in the season facing the challenge of a new role with the Bulldogs, but is starting to get the hang of it. He said he didn’t know what to expect but now likes having people look to him as a leader.

“I expected to just be another guy on the team,” Hayden said. “But I like having more on my shoulders.”

Hayden and the rest of the Bulldogs are dealing with the burden of being winless eight games into the season. With the Bulldogs’ first league game Friday against Rifle, Hayden said he has prepared himself to win in the second half of the season.

“I certainly did forget about (the first half of the season),” Hayden said. “I don’t feel I had a great first half and I now am ready for a fresh start.”

And despite a rocky start to the season, Hayden knows it is not over yet.

“We haven’t won a game yet and league is all that counts, because that is how we are going to get into state,” Hayden said. “I think we can play with all the teams in the league.”


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