The Mancos Blue Jays.
The Navajo Prep Eagles.
Two vastly different brands of bird on the basketball court, and two vastly different - but not completely unexpected - outcomes for the retooled team attempting to claw them both down beginning the 2017-18 season.
The Wolverines were beneficiaries of an effective full-court press and superior team speed overall in a 47-31 road win last Saturday afternoon inside the Mancos Performance Center. But Bayfield's girls met their match and then some in both regards Tuesday night at home as Prep packed up and returned to their Farmington nest having scored a 61-32 victory.
"Navajo Prep's definitely a talented team - we knew that coming in," BHS head coach Josh Kitchen said. "They did their job tonight - made solid passes, played a great transition game - and congrats to them. They played well, but I thought our girls hustled. And we've known all along that no matter who we play we're going to grow as a team. That's the key, and in practice, we're going to keep growing."
Despite junior center/forward Jordan Lanning being slowed by two first-half fouls, the Wolverines (1-1, 0-0 3A Intermountain) managed to stay within five points, 15-10, through their first eight regulation minutes inside BHS Gymnasium.
Unfortunately, Eagle senior Martinique Larvingo came off Rainy Crisp's bench to sprint up and down the floor for eight second-quarter points. The Eagles (3-1, 0-0 NMAA Dist. 1-4A) went into halftime up 36-15 and never looked back, particularly with Larvingo registering seven points in the third quarter, helping the guests go into the final frame up 47-25.
She finished with a game-high 17 points.
Hitting all three of her free throws, Lanning logged a BHS-best 11 points. Junior guard Tymbree Florian, who finished with four fouls, managed eight, while freshman guard Madison Wells and senior forward Savannah Kaufmann each scored four.
"Jordan's one of the hardest workers we have," Kitchen said. "The girls all work super hard, but Jordan's got that kind of competitive attitude, that little edge you like to look for in a player.
"I love that she went to the hole several times tonight, ended up getting several hoops off that and some free throws as well. So I'm proud of her effort; she needs to keep that up for the team."
Three days earlier, Lanning started her second season in Bayfield colors netting 11 of her 13 points against Mancos in the third quarter, helping the Wolverines increase a 27-16 halftime lead to 41-24 through three quarters of their season-opener.
Kaufmann totaled 11 points despite she and Lanning meeting unexpected resistance in the paint from Blue Jay freshman Madi Hale (11 points). Florian, meanwhile, made her return to the squad with seven second-quarter points and a game-high 14 when all was said and done.
Appropriately, after each team's first two or three possessions ended in turnovers, Florian sank a jumper to get the scoring started. Mancos (0-2, 0-0 2A/1A San Juan Basin), however, failed to make a basket until Hale hit from close range with 18 seconds left in the first quarter, after which BHS led 12-3.
"It feels good, just bringing energy to this new team. They all have it; they're young, super excited to play," Florian said, "so getting that first shot in the game.kind of gave them positivity and confidence, you know? It felt good to help out."
Senior guard Tiarra Christensen scored three for Bayfield, and Wells, sophomore Meghan Youngblood and freshman Kira Riley each netted two points.
"We knew we were going to press them right off the bat," Christensen said, "all the way, full-court. And we knew they were going to run a pretty tight zone (defensively), so our goal was to keep the ball moving, get those screens in, so we could create space.get those shots off."
"It was a great opener," she continued. "Our team has been working our butts off, is super energetic, and we're here to play the game; we love it."
"I'm just proud of how the girls worked," said Kitchen. "You know, we have a lot of edges we need to smooth out; I think we did some really good things, but there's some holes and we're going to fix those. And I think as that confidence grows we're going to challenge teams."
"I love coaching these girls, and it's really an honor," he added. "I've been waiting quite a long time to do this and I was real excited to see them step out and represent Bayfield in a positive way today!"
Up next, the Wolverines will hit the Dec. 8-9 Buena Vista Invitational, facing 3A teams Parachute Grand Valley at 5:30 p.m. on Day 1 and Broomfield Jefferson Academy at 10 a.m. on Day 2.
"We're going to face some talented teams when we get there and we're going to have to bring our 'A' game if we want to be competitive," Kitchen said. "But I think we can; I think it really comes down to effort and executing the kind of Xs and Os the girls know how to do."