Further taxing Alamosa's post players, still somewhat spent after trying to defend Pagosa Springs star Morgan Lewis and others the night before, Kira Riley gave Bayfield as much fighting chance to play one more weekend as an uncommon freshman could.
And in Hollywood cliff-hanger fashion, the emerging forward gave a determined wait-til-next-year performance against event-hosting Alamosa in the Intermountain League District Tournament's third-place game. Riley scored an impressive 16 points in a 45-29 loss.
That was one fewer than BHS managed in the previous evening's first semifinal. About the only thing in that game that went in Bayfield's favor were freshman center Macee Schultz losing the opening tip by a fingertip to Centauri senior Ember Canty, and CHS senior forward Caroline Van Berkum picking up her fourth foul late in the second half, without being on the court.
Blanked by the Falcons' bigs in a 64-17 blowout, Riley responded by registering a team-high point count which would have paced all players if local Sylvie Caton didn't still have energy to burn after a 51-26 loss to PSHS. Able to fight for 16 points herself in the second semi, the Mean Moose junior forward went off on BHS for 20, and had help from sophomore guard Lily Lavier (8 points) and senior guard Alana Hackett (7) in boosting Alamosa (14-8 overall) into the 3A State Tournament's opening Round-of-32 this weekend.
The accomplishment didn't come easily; the Wolverines trailed by only three points, 10-7, after eight minutes. Bayfield also lost the third quarter by only three, 8-5, and actually won the fourth 15-13. That left the second quarter, in which AHS' full-court press had its desired effect, as the difference.
"I'm incredibly proud of our girls - they all stepped up," said head coach Josh Kitchen, whose first varsity squad finished 7-15. "Some of these girls, they've had three different head coaches in four years, so it was a big culture change and a shift."
"We're definitely young, but we had some great leadership from our seniors (Tiarra Christensen and Cinnamon Varnell) and we have some good leaders coming up from our junior class. We have a really awesome group of girls who are willing to come to the gym and work hard. I could not be more proud of this group, and I think this was a really successful season."
"I think our future is bright," he continued. "I'm excited for what we're going to do, and hopefully next year we'll have a higher seed in the IML Tournament."