Given the workload his team will take on during the New Year's first two weeks, another Christmas break would understandably be in order for Jeff Lehnus' boys.
But then again, the gains potentially resulting from strong showings this weekend on their home court should have the Wolverines riding a serious wave of momentum into their Intermountain League-opening contests next weekend.
"Starting this Friday, we will have five games in eight days: Ignacio, Durango this weekend, Tuesday versus Kirtland, then on Friday league begins with a trip to Centauri, followed on Saturday with a home game versus Monte Vista," said Lehnus.
"The schedule was designed this year to be one of the most challenging ever in Bayfield Basketball history," he continued, "in order to prepare us to defend our league title and honor our commitment this year to 'Embrace the Dream' of truly competing at the highest level in 3A basketball."
Friday night, Jan. 5, that drive resumes with BHS hosting none other than Ignacio at 7 p.m. in the 2018 Southwest Colorado Classic. Also known as the Four Corners Classic (or Four Corners Tournament), the two-day event will get underway with Durango battling former 4A/5A Southwestern arch-nemesis Montezuma-Cortez at 5 p.m.
"The goal of the.tournament is to highlight the local basketball talent," Lehnus said, "and allow the fans of these communities to enjoy a local venue to watch and support them."
Day 2 will see IHS squaring off against M-CHS at 3 p.m. with BHS-DHS following at 5.
"While students are still currently out for break, at least for our school, we are hoping (fans) will want to come out to see some basketball and cheer on their teams. This is important; our team, for example, had only one game at home in all of December for our fans to enjoy!"
And Bayfield backers will certainly enjoy what should be a thriller against Ignacio. This is BHS' fourth top-ten opponent, and it's only seven games into their schedule. The Wolverines began their season losing 52-49 at 3A #3 Englewood Kent Denver, then later lost 58-46 to 3A #1 Sterling on Day 2 of Buena Vista's Demon Invitational, and ended the Old Year with a 56-52 loss (Dec. 16) at 3A #6 Colorado Springs Christian.
Ranked fifth in the last CHSAANow.com Class 2A boys' poll before Christmas, Chris Valdez's Bobcats (4-1 overall, 3-0 2A/1A San Juan Basin) will bring the best win-loss marks to date out of any of the four squads set to light up BHS Gymnasium.
Survivors of a slim 61-54 road win at SJBL threat Telluride their most recent (Dec. 21) time out, Durango and veteran coach Alan Batiste will enter the tournament 2-6 (0-0 SWL) overall, while Montezuma-Cortez will check in standing 3-3 (0-0 IML) under maestro Michael Hall.
Besides wanting to balance out a deceptive 2-4 (0-0 IML) start - their losses have come by a total of just 22 points - the Wolverines will also be looking to add to history. Lehnus consulted local historian Dan Ford's research and relayed to the Times that since 1948, the ever-competitive BHS-IHS rivalry presently stands Bayfield 71, Ignacio 69, and that BHS has only downed DHS' varsity once, in 1949.
"The tradition of the Bayfield and Ignacio rivalry speaks for itself," declared Lehnus. "When it comes to Durango, much like football achieving a historic accomplishment in defeating Durango this year, it would also be a historic achievement in basketball."
RUST-BUSTING: Lehnus said that BHS' break-time practicing was relatively light, in order to at last afford a roster filled with football-weary players some quality R&R.
"We had just two open gyms and will now begin practicing together the three days this week prior to the tourney," he said. "After.the immediate turnaround to the challenging basketball schedule, the boys were fatigued both mentally and physically. This, combined with some injuries and sickness, led us to believe that it was better in the long term to value getting much-needed rest. It does mean that once again we have to get back in condition and the flow of the game, but this way we could begin the New Year with renewed energy and focus to embark upon the next two months."
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: Factoring IHS' aforementioned 4-1 record into the equation, BHS' opponents this winter are, as of Wednesday morning, an aggregate 30-12 overall.