SAN LUIS VALLEY-Never really out of contention in any Intermountain League clash during a bizarre 1-7 regular-season, the Wolverine boys finally locked down a solid victory Tuesday night in Monte Vista to prolong their season into the IML District Tournament's bracket phase.
Behind an impressive 14-point performance from junior guard Taed Heydinger, Bayfield eliminated the Monte Vista Pirates 51-37 in the tourney's dreaded play-in game. BHS improved to 10-9 overall entering tonight's 6 p.m. game against IML power Alamosa in Pagosa Springs.
Tied with MVHS 24-24 at halftime, the Wolverines scrapped to lead 32-28 entering the fourth quarter, which they then controlled by a decisive 19-9 margin.
Senior guard Trevor Gabbard was right behind Heydinger with his 13 points, and junior forward Zane Phelps registered 11. Senior center Preston Hardy scored just five points, but still one-upped MVHS counterpart Donald Poole II (four) with help defensively from freshman forward Ryan Phelps.
Hardy's four rebounds-equaled by Zane Phelps and senior guard Conner Kennedy-trailed only Heydinger's five for the team lead, while his four blocks proved most essential.
Senior guard Dillon Hoselton had three points and three steals. Kennedy finished a quiet night with two points, as did sophomore reserve forward Fred Edwards, and Ryan Phelps booked one.
Bayfield was 5-of-12 accurate from three-point land. Gabbard and Heydinger each nailed two. BHS was 8-of-14 at the free-throw line.
And if BHS beats Alamosa (7-1 IML, 14-5 overall), they'll earn a berth in the Class 3A state tournament as one of the district's top three crews. That would be another satisfying accomplishment in itself. Last year Bayfield was denied a chance at third place with La Jara Centauri being protected through to the postseason's next phase-rather than facing BHS-despite being blown out by AHS in their IML district opener.
Alamosa's 21-point win over the Wolverines Jan. 20 inside AHS Gymnasium, and 13-point victory inside BHS Gymnasium Feb. 7, were the only league games in which BHS lost-or won-by more than seven points this season until Tuesday night.
The Bayfield-Alamosa winner will play the winner of Pagosa Springs (11-8) and Centauri (10-9) tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. for first place, while the losers will meet at 4:30 p.m. to decide third.
Eric Flores of the Valley Courier contributed to this piece.