FEDERAL HEIGHTS-In persisting through their Class 3A "Sweet 16" test against Eaton, the Wolverines also knew they were close to ending another dry spell-not only for this season's battle-forged roster, but Bayfield rosters of years past.
Current assistant coach Trent Phelps' name appears on one of the school's most recent banners commemorating the accomplishment of reaching a season's last, ultimate weekend, in 1986.
"At the beginning of the season we had an advantage, because we've all been playing (together) forever. And then.other teams just progressed and caught up with us a little bit," said senior center Preston Hardy.
"We went through a little slump. Injury, sickness, Zane got suspended a game-all the crap every team deals with," he continued. "But we stuck with it. We could have easily quit, could have easily folded, but we knew that we had something special with all these guys."
In the fourth quarter against Eaton, Bayfield transformed into the same eye-opening machine which had pulverized The Pinnacle, the state tournament's 5-seed in its opening Round of 32, and hosts of the four-team gathering last weekend. Bayfield was ranked number 28 in the 32-team tournament.
"It's a great team effort; we all worked hard all year and we deserve this," said junior forward Zane Phelps, Trent Phelps' nephew and cousin of freshman forward Ryan Phelps. "This is where we want to be, and we're going to go try to win a couple games up there too!"
Added Head Coach Jeff Lehnus: "Tough games against tough opponents.we've played these kinds of games for two months; the only difference is we're winning them now!That's what's fun and exciting, and I'm so happy for the boys, and for Bayfield, and for Bayfield basketball."
#28 BAYFIELD 75, #5 THE PINNACLE 54:
Amazingly out-playing the highly-rated locals in nearly every aspect, Bayfield took an 8-4 lead early in the contest-when it was a contest. Two jumpers by senior guard Conner Kennedy swiftly increased it to 15-6 on senior guard Trevor Gabbard's three-pointer, and never let the 'Wolves approach within five points in winning by 21.
Bayfield led 18-10 after one quarter and 35-26 through two. Hitting 5-of-7 from the foul line during the closing eight minutes, Kennedy finished with a game-high 17 points, and senior guard Dillon Hoselton-who helped end the game with an uncontested layup-had 14. Hardy and Gabbard each finished with 13 as nine BHS players scored, with reserve post Fred Edwards sinking two FT's to officially ice the outcome.
Pinnacle's season abruptly ended with a 19-4 record.
#28 BAYFIELD 69, #12 EATON 61: The Eaton Reds managed to keep upstart Bayfield focused until the very end, rapidly chopping BHS' 67-49 advantage down the final score.
"It's a game of runs. Luckily our run-before they went on a run-was a little bit bigger," Hardy said. "And we contained them until it was too late; that's what playing hard the whole game does for you."
After playing tight the first half, Bayfield settled into a rhythm for the second half.
"I just told us to play our game. Because the first half we totally played their game, and the refs' game; we were all frustrated, we were flustered.you could tell we played their game," he recalled. "The second half, we started getting back into our game and what we knew, and I just reminded them of that."
"Told them, 'One more quarter of doing what we do best, and we'll win!' And that's what we did!"
Ryan Phelps began the last quarter with a hoop, and Gabbard later finished a breakaway with a layup, putting BHS up 46-38.
"What we've preached all year is finishing," said Zane Phelps, who booked a game-best 18 points, "and coming out, getting on top of teams-just playing OUR basketball. And that's what we did.it means everything."
Kennedy totaled 13 points, Gabbard and Ryan Phelps each totaled eight, and junior Taed Heydinger five as he'd done in helping defeat the 'Wolves (when Zane Phelps had notched just four).
"Preston sat half the game with foul trouble, Dillon sat a ton of the game with foul trouble, and yet again we found a way," said Lehnus. "How we're doing it is our defense; this is what we pride ourselves on, and we try to work them very hard to understand defense wins championships."
"As far as seniors go, we've thought about this since second grade-ever since we started playing together," said Hoselton (eight points). "We've talked about.our senior year, we're going to make something special-we knew what we were going to have-and we've just figured out what we want to do."
"We're refusing to lose right now!"
Beginning the Great Eight in Golden, Bayfield faced Denver's Colorado Academy yesterday.