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Harden-Hayes leads Spud basketball resurgence

posted Feb 24, 2019, 1:35 PM by Andrew Tichy
Senior Maleeck Harden-Hayes shoots a free throw at a game at MHS earlier this season.
Photo: Rogan Isbell | The Spud

By: Rogan Isbell

Maleeck Harden-Hayes, the senior captain for Moorhead basketball, has offers from MSUM, NDSU, SDSU, and University of Sioux Falls. Despite all the offers, the thought isn’t really concerning him right now.

“My mind is strictly on this season. I’m playing out senior year and I will then make my decision,” he said regarding his college decision.

It’s certainly been a roller coaster of a decade for Spuds basketball. In the 2011-12 season, the team made it to the state tournament. However, a few difficult years were to come for the Spuds, including a three win season in 2015-16. Then, Tyler Bormann was hired as their next head coach and the team slowly began to turn things around. Moorhead improved gradually, from three wins, to seven, to twelve (and a section upset against St. Cloud Tech), to fifteen and counting this year.

“Coach Bormann has really affected the attitude of our team. Everybody’s always picking each other up and trying to get the best out of everybody. There’s no room for selfishness or a me-first mentality,” Harden-Hayes said about the impact of Bormann.

While players like Drew Hagen and Harden-Hayes were expected to get better this season, they lost six seniors, including four that got regular minutes. As a result, some people (myself included) doubted if Moorhead would have a successful season. But they’ve come out of the gate steaming hot, in large part thanks to the play of Hagen and Harden-Hayes, but also for some other reasons.

Harden-Hayes has this to say about how the team has succeeded early: “We’re a really fast team; we can get it down the floor and score a lot in transition, and get mismatches. The young guys are stepping in and really giving valuable contributions, like Belind [Alemadi] and Donnavin [Hinsz]. We got a lot of shooters, and we’re just balanced all-around, which gives us a great chance to win any given night.”

Despite great play from the supporting cast, Harden-Haye’s simple dominance has helped the Spuds win close games. He was put on the watch list for Mr. Basketball of Minnesota, and has had several jaw-dropping performances, his best being a 42-point and 10-rebound night in a 91-80 win at Buffalo. One way he’s been able to dominate is in the paint. At 6’6”, he has been able to dunk since the 10th grade. The home crowds at Spuds games start to leave their feet seemingly every time Harden-Hayes gets into the paint in anticipation of a monster jam.

Lastly, some people change due to extra pressure or recognition. But Harden-Hayes hasn’t let anything cloud his vision of what’s important.

“The awards, the offers, it’s all nice. But my number one focus is getting better each and every day and making sure we play the best we can. Our eyes are on a deep section run; we have the ability to get to state,” added Harden-Hayes.

He hit 1,000 career points on Saturday, February 9th against Monticello, which makes him just the tenth boy to do that in Moorhead’s history. With his talent and work ethic, he should be able to succeed no matter where he goes to further his basketball career.