GOLDEN-It wasn't only freshman forward Ryan Phelps' improbable bank-shot three-pointer to force overtime on Day 2. There was junior forward Zane Phelps' two-handed, rim-free bulls-eye from far behind midcourt ending the first quarter on Day 3.
Playing in the Class 3A state basketball championships inside Colorado School of Mines' Lockridge Arena, the younger of the Phelps cousins helped the Wolverines pull off yet another upset in the tourney, 55-51 in overtime over Broomfield Jefferson Academy, the 9-seed in the initial Round of 32; BHS was the #28. To assure themselves of placing, the older Phelps' incredible shot couldn't generate similar energy against Intermountain Leaguers Alamosa. Bayfield's season ended Saturday, March 14, with a 79-55 loss in the fifth-place game.
The Mean Moose started Saturday's game on an amazing 19-1 run before senior Trevor Gabbard sank a three with 1:21 left in the first quarter, and Zane Phelps soon followed with his long-range heave. Swiping the momentum right back, AHS senior guard Cody Garcia canned a trey starting the second, and despite Zane Phelps hitting another triple and junior guard Taed Heydinger burying two of his own, Alamosa owned a 38-26 advantage at halftime.
Sophomore guard Ryan Brubacher then put the game out of reach with a ridiculous 14-point third quarter, doubling up Gabbard's own impressive seven, and the Moose led 59-41 entering the season's last eight minutes. The Moose scored 20 more points in the fourth to complete a 4-for-4 'season' versus the Wolverines.
Completing a personal breakout postseason, Ryan Phelps paced BHS (14-12 overall) with 15 points. Heydinger netted 13, and Gabbard and Zane Phelps each booked 10. Alamosa's Brubacher led all players with his 24.
He may have fared differently inside had BHS senior center Preston Hardy been on the court instead of shouting instruction and encouragement from Jeff Lehnus' bench, his right hand in a cast after an unfortunate break suffered in Bayfield's Day 1 loss on Thursday, March 12.
The 6'7" senior had netted 12 first-half points against Denver-based Colorado Academy, but finished with that many as the Wolverines were unable to overcome a manageable 31-26 halftime deficit in losing 60-44. Senior guard Conner Kennedy scored 11 versus the Mustangs and Gabbard and Ryan Phelps had seven apiece.
But what Bayfield fans and players will remember most took place the following afternoon, especially after the Jefferson Academy Jaguars went into halftime leading 27-12 after BHS scored just three second-quarter points.
The Wolverines still trailed by 11 points, 36-25, when the fourth quarter began. BHS had momentum after a late Heydinger triple fell at the buzzer ending the third. Another Heydinger three cut the margin to 36-28, a layup by senior Dillon Hoselton made it 36-30, and a later drive to the hole by Gabbard made it 38-33.
A Gabbard steal-and-two pulled Bayfield back to 38-35, and a Ryan Phelps layup made the score 38-37 before an aghast academy fan base. With three minutes remaining, Ryan Phelps hit a free throw to tie the game at 38, and Gabbard-who netted eight fourth-quarter points, one more than Phelps-made a slick reverse layup to re-tie at 40.
That set the stage for Ryan Phelps' moment in the clutch.
Kennedy clanked BHS' first try at forcing a fifth quarter. Zane Phelps rebounded the ball and eventually swung the ball to his right to Ryan Phelps, who fired over Jefferson Academy's 6'4" senior forward Joe Raff and found the net.
Zane Phelps would ultimately total a team-best 13 points, while Ryan Phelps (seven points) would snare 13 rebounds and swat a Hardy-like four shots with Hardy watching in street clothes. Gabbard finished the wild affair with 12 points, Hoselton had 11 and Heydinger eight.
This was Bayfield's first trip to state boys basketball in 29 years, and it can be hoped, it won't be another 29 years until they return. Congratulations, guys!