Lightning struck visiting Monte Vista twice last Saturday, and Bayfield's Jordan Lanning played Zeus.
Able to end the third quarter with a buzzer-beating jumper, pulling the Wolverines to within two points at 40-38, the junior center/forward all but ended an unexpected Intermountain League thriller with a 14-footer and only 3.2 seconds remaining-ultimately stealing a 51-49 win away from the Pirates.
"I'm crazy proud of her," said head coach Josh Kitchen, "as a junior to step up in a tough game, a big environment when the crowd's loud, and attack like that, make those kinds of shots. And I think the girls kind of followed that; it was a phenomenal effort."
MVHS, however, had a chance to win in regulation, and the ball ended up in the hands of the one player Kitchen didn't want to see having a three-point try off the left wing, with her primary defender having already fouled out.
"I gave Tymbree a job tonight and she did great at it," Kitchen said, referring to junior guard Tymbree Florian, who picked up her fifth personal with 1:26 left in the game and BHS trailing 48-47 after a clutch three by Pirate senior Kaitlyn Porter.
"She gave me good minutes when she could," he continued. "Unfortunately, sometimes the fouls go one way or another, but you can't control that."
But even with a good look at the rim, senior Mariah Barbosa's last-gasp launch missed the mark, and BHS had a long-awaited victory over the program which had cut short each of their previous two seasons in the IML District Tournament's notorious 'pig-tail' play-in phase.
It was an uphill climb for the Wolverines right from the start; Monte Vista built up a 9-2 lead with 4:12 left in the first quarter, and Florian had already been hit with three fouls for her aggressive ball-hawking. A Barbosa 1-and-1 from the foul line with 2:04 left put the guests up 16-5 and hinted that a blowout was potentially brewing.
But seemingly out of nowhere, the Wolverines' reserves reversed the game's flow, and junior forward/center Mikayla Barnes knocked down consecutive 16-footers from straight away to bring Bayfield back to within 19-11 after the initial eight minutes.
Freshman center Macee Schultz then surprised MVHS with two inside hoops midway through the second quarter, cutting the lead down to 22-20, and freshman Halle Loveday then cleaned up a miss with 1:08 left to tie the action at 22-22. Florian picked up her fourth foul with 37 seconds left, but even though Barbosa would hit two of four free throws and senior Tayler Chacon a two-point jumper in the waning moments, BHS went into halftime energetically after freshman forward Kira Riley rejected Porter's attempted buzzer-beater near midcourt.
Porter responded immediately, canning a triple right after the third quarter commenced. The Pirates rebuilt themselves a 39-29 advantage, with 2:45 left, via Porter's next long-distance connection. Incredibly, the Wolverines were again up to the challenge on their home court, and countered with a 9-1 run-keyed by two Riley baskets and Lanning's aforementioned make-to set up the deciding stanza.
MVHS junior Hannah Jones, who led all players with her 17 points, drained a three to give the guests some breathing room with a 45-39 lead, but freshman starter Madison Wells dropped in a layup to tie with 3:28 remaining and the fans' volume increasing with each shot taken, let alone made.
Lanning (15 points) then out-sprinted the enemy for a go-ahead layup only to see Porter (11 points) cash her third trey of the half. But with BHS still able to work the ball inside, senior regular Cinnamon Varnell, to that instant held scoreless, cleaned up a Schultz miss to re-tie at 49-49 following a Barbosa free throw resulting from Florian's disqualification.
"We wanted to give her a chance the other night against Centauri, she came out and played even better," Kitchen said, of Schultz's sudden emergence from the JV roster. "So I told her, 'Tonight you're also varsity,' just trying to test her to see what she's capable of. Every night she, impresses me; her attitude's phenomenal, she's doing exactly what we ask her to do - and with no fear."
"The girls - I think they're starting to show every game how much they want this and how much they care," he continued. "I think what we're doing in practice is starting to pay off. It's still going to be a slow go for a while, but I think the mentality is changing; the girls are starting to believe that, you know, we can win games!"
Held to just two field goals and 8-of-13 FT accuracy, Barbosa finished with 13 points and Chacon (2-6 FT) logged eight, but MVHS finished just 14-of-29 from the charity stripe compared to BHS' 6-of-13.