Everyone knows girls' basketball in the Intermountain League is challenging.
And after closing out one of the most brutal scheduling stretches in recent memory, one might expect hard-luck Bayfield to be at breaking point heading into the 2018-19 season's final month. The girls had a Jan. 25 trip to #3-ranked Pagosa Springs, a Jan. 26 visit to now-#8 Alamosa, and a Jan. 28 visit from #6 Centauri.
That breaking point doesn't appear to be the case.
Trailing Centauri 19-6 after the opening eight minutes on Monday, the Wolverines refused to crack and rode freshman guard Maddy Oltmanns' nine second-quarter points all the way back to within striking distance, 33-24, at halftime inside an energized BHS Gymnasium.
Josh Kitchen's crew had actually scrapped back to 31-24 via two Oltmanns free throws, but Falcon senior Kaitlyn Martin answered with two herself. No matter; Oltmanns began the second half with a confident 10-footer, and BHS would find themselves down just five points, 33-28, after sophomore center Macee Schultz caught an accidental pass from sophomore Cayanne Carlson and powered it in the hoop.
Contributing off the bench for new Centauri coach Troy Reynolds, sophomore forward Courtney Hamilton countered with a cleanup basket, then combined with senior regular Melissa Wilson to score 11 of the visitors' next 13 points before sophomore guard Brenna McDaniel converted a steal into two points and a 50-35 advantage entering the fourth quarter.
Fighting to the end, BHS sophomore guard Brooke Merchant pumped in nine points-including a three-pointer inside the final minute which bumped Bayfield's total up to 48. But with Hamilton and junior forward Mia Garcia still asserting themselves inside, combining for another six points en route to both finishing in double digits, the Falcons were able to stall out the final seconds and prevail 62-48.
"I've got to give the girls tons of credit to be in it the whole way," Kitchen said afterwards.
"We stuck with this Centauri team that's incredibly talented, and we made it look like we were right there. And in many ways we are, but we still have some pieces to fill in before we're really going to get over that hurdle and consistently beat teams like Centauri."
Oltmanns, who fouled out with seven seconds left, totaled 15 points, all during BHS' second- and third-quarter comeback, and matched Wilson for tops in the game. Merchant finished with a valiant 14 and Schultz 11, while senior point guard Tymbree Florian managed six.
Coming in off a 57-21 loss at PSHS and a 53-24 defeat at AHS, Bayfield slipped to 5-8 overall, 2-4 in league prior to their Feb. 1 road game at Montezuma-Cortez (4-8, 1-5), with Round 2 versus Centauri on Saturday out in La Jara.
SCHEDULE CHANGE: The Wolverines' Jan. 29 road game at 2A Telluride has been moved to Tuesday, Feb. 5, with the varsity-only encounter set to begin at 5 p.m.