Bayfield's final hoop of the third quarter held up, for all practical purposes, as the final nail in the Miyamura Patriots' coffin at home on Tuesday.
Capping a 13-point quarter with a buzzer-beating, pull-up 17-footer, Bayfield senior Preston Hardy was simply too tough for the Gallup team in a 54-40 win, properly ringing in the New Year's side of the Wolverines' schedule.
"We practiced four times in 15 days, so we could have had a little bit of rust to work off," the 6'7" Bayfield center said of Christmas break. "I didn't see a lot; I thought we played pretty consistent."
When playing their own style, that meant consistently "on." That was seen in a 12-2 spree, capped by back-to-back Hardy putbacks after MHS coach Andrew Blanco had called a frustrated timeout in the third quarter. But when forced to play Miyamura's slow-it-down way, it meant consistently "off."
Hardy and junior forward Zane Phelps had combined for all eight of BHS' first-quarter points, but Miyamura (4-9, 0-0 District 1-5A) countered with six. The Patriots then promptly tied the score at 8-8 early in the second, and though the guests never led, Wolverine junior guard Taed Heydinger's transition layup just before intermission had Bayfield (5-1, 0-0 3A Intermountain) only in control by seven, 23-16.
"Rebounding, working hard and playing good defense; that was definitely our strong points tonight," Phelps said. "We couldn't get a lot of shots to fall, and we always rely on defense when we can't get shots in."
Something had to change, and after boss Jeff Lehnus' locker-room reminders, it did.
"Our emphasis is to come out strong after halftime every game," Hardy said. "Last year and in years past we'd come out inconsistent or a little slow after halftime, and then we'd have to wake up and speed up. We just really want to come out hot, come out firing and come out hustling!"
Eight regulation minutes later, the Wolverines found themselves going into the fourth quarter up 42-22.
"That's the kind of stuff that will happen!" said Hardy, who finished with a game-high 24 points. "You go on a little run, and.. it could be anyone on our team!"
MHS' did make a 10-4 run to start the fourth quarter, but the Patriots would get no closer than 52-40 before BHS junior guard Brody McGhehey iced the game with two free throws and only 0:09 remaining.
"I thought it was cool because we've played them in football, and I thought it was nice to have them come here and play them in basketball," said Phelps, who booked 14 points. "There was a couple guys I recognized."
Senior guard Trevor Gabbard netted six points for the victors, and classmate Conner Kennedy had three. McGhehey, Heydinger and senior forward Aubry Brown each had two points, and senior Dillon Hoselton had one. Freethrows were a low point of the evening for BHS, with the Wolverines making just nine in 19 attempts.
Bayfield will next be in action this evening on Day 2 of the Aztec Tigers' "Rumble in the Jungle." BHS opened the event against Aztec last night.
"I think it's a good game to go into the Aztec tournament," said Hardy. "They played us here, we play them there.it's kind of a pre-league warm-up and we'll get after it this weekend!"
SCHEDULE SWITCH: BHS' non-league home test versus 2A Sargent, originally slated for Jan. 27, has been moved to Feb. 3 (starting with JV action at 5 p.m.) after the Farmers realized they had double-booked that initial date.