A mid-season slump didn’t bring the Wolverines down. The Bayfield High School girls basketball team responded to losing seven of nine games by winning five of its last seven. None were bigger than Tuesday night.
At home inside Wolverines Gymnasium thanks to a head-to-head points differential tiebreaker against Montezuma-Cortez, Bayfield hosted the Panthers in the first round of the Class 3A Intermountain League tournament on Tuesday night. The Wolverines used a big second quarter to take a 22-14 halftime lead and then turned it around after a tough third quarter to secure a 41-33 win.
“I am so proud of these girls for their effort,” BHS head coach Josh Kitchen said. “We are really excited as a team. We knew we had to show up and play well. For chunks of the game, we executed very well. It’s all excitement, and the girls are ready for the rest of the IML tournament.”
BHS (9-11) saw its big halftime lead cut to 25-23 going to the fourth after being outscored 9-3 in the third quarter. But the Wolverines responded with a 16-10 advantage in the fourth quarter to secure the win against the Panthers (6-13). BHS got out to a 10-2 run to start the fourth quarter to put it away.
Macee Schulz scored a game-high 10 points for BHS. Cayanne Carlson and Maddy Oltmanns each had eight points, and Madison Wells finished with five. Carlson was key to keeping Bayfield within 10-9 after the first quarter.
Kitchen said a big key to the game was the play of reserves such as Riley Campbell, Aubree Farmer and Abby Tate.
Campbell was key in the fourth-quarter run for Bayfield, as she knocked down consecutive shots and then fed a good assist to Wells for a big 3-pointer. Tate also was key on the floor with Schulz substituted out of the game.
“We had some depth tonight off the bench that was great,” Kitchen said. “I’m really proud of the quality minutes we had and having six girls score. Having some balance and being able to give some of the starters a break really pays off later in the game.”
Montezuma-Cortez was led by eight points from Paige Yarbrough. Presley Frost and Malia Begay each had five.
BHS had suffered a tough 44-43 loss at Montezuma-Cortez back on Jan. 18. The Wolverines responded by beating the Panthers 50-35 at home Feb. 7. That was the game that gave BHS the home court Tuesday.
“We have a lot of respect for what they do over in Cortez,” Kitchen said. “But the reality is that we lost the first game because of so many missed free throws. We were frustrated and felt like we had a game we could have won. The last two games against them, we were motivated to beat them.”
Now, the Wolverines will face top-seed and fourth-ranked Pagosa Springs (15-4) on Friday night in Monte Vista. BHS lost 49-33 and 47-26 to the Pirates earlier this season.
“They are so well-coached and have lots of quality players,” Kitchen said. “We’re excited to play them on a neutral court. That can go a long way for us. Coach Wes (Lewis) doesn’t take anything for granted. Our goal is to counter that, show them stuff they haven’t seen before and show up as a team that can compete with them. It’s tough to beat Pagosa, but we think we have the girls to do it.”