The Central High School boys basketball team’s first two possessions during Friday night’s game against Logan ended the same way.

David Hayden mug

Hayden

The Red Raiders put the ball in hands of junior David Hayden, and he took the ball to the basket.

The first resulted on a missed shot that was put back in by teammate Terrance Thompson and the second a foul and two made free throws.

It was a sign of things to come in Central’s 82-53 MVC victory over the Rangers.

Hayden isn’t the first name to come to mind when thinking of the state’s fifth-ranked team in Division 2. It isn’t the second or third or fourth, either.

But don’t let that mean Hayden’s role isn’t a significant one. His 12-point performance against Logan — one that was filled with confidence, focus and an aggressive approach toward the basket — emphasized that.

“We obviously have our top four players who are our best players,” Hayden said of Johnny Davis, Jordan Davis, Noah Parcher and Thompson. “I’m the other starter.

“But they also have confidence in me. I can play my game and put it together with their game.”

Hayden was a key ingredient as the second-place Red Raiders (17-2, 8-1) buried the Rangers (8-10, 5-5) early to stay within striking distance of first-place Onalaska (17-1, 10-0).

Hayden converted a pass from Parcher, had a steal that led to a basket for Jordan Davis and drilled a 3-pointer with 11 minutes, 4 seconds left in the first half to give Central a 20-3 lead. Hayden had 11 of his points in the first half and even turned an offensive rebound into a basket for Thompson as the Red Raiders rolled.

“He flies under the radar,” Central coach Todd Fergot said of Hayden, who played as a reserve on last season’s state championship team. “We knew David was a good player. We saw this from him on the summer, and there isn’t a moment that’s too big for him.

“He’s taking advantage of the opportunities he’s getting both offensively and defensively.”

Hayden is averaging 7.4 points and 3.4 rebounds per game with 28 of his 61 rebounds coming on the offensive end. He is shooting 46.2 percent and has made 10 of 37 attempts from the 3-point line (27.0 percent).

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Assistant Sports Editor

Todd Sommerfeldt has covered sports for the La Crosse Tribune since 2003 after doing the same previously in the Fox Cities and Rock County.