There will be a new Colorado High School Activities Association Class 3A boys basketball state champion in 2019.
The reigning champion Bayfield High School Wolverines were eliminated in the first round of the 3A state tournament Friday night in a 67-63 loss at No. 5 Delta.
The 28th-seed Wolverines (11-11) went back-and-forth but could not pull ahead.
Bayfield got off to a slow start as it was down 13-3 at the end of the first quarter. In the second, BHS outscored Delta 17-11 and went into the locker room with a 24-20 deficit.
“I thought we really battled back in the second quarter,” BHS first-year head coach Klint Chandler said. “We cut it back down to four. We really battled back. In the second half, we kept pushing and really did a good job defensively. We tied it up in the third quarter, but we couldn’t get the stop and score to take the lead. The kids played really hard and, as always, they played their hearts out.”
Bayfield and Delta matched each other with 21 points each in the third quarter and 22 each in the fourth.
BHS tied the game at 32 on a 3-pointer midway through the third, but the Panthers (19-4) immediately responded with its own 10-2 run, which included two 3-pointers. The Wolverines closed the gap and were down four, 45-41, heading into the fourth.
In the final frame, BHS brought it within two points twice but would not get closer. Delta went on another 8-0 run to increase their lead to 10, and while it would be cut again to a two-possession game, the Wolverines ran out of gas.
“We got tired at the end, and we couldn’t get that stop we needed,” Chandler said. “It was a good basketball game, and it was what you’d want out of a playoff game, but, unfortunately, it was too little too late at the end.”
Turner Kennedy finished his final game in Bayfield colors with 20 points, which was a game-high, while Hayden Farmer had 14 in his final game. Briant Cuellar had 9 and Keyon Prior had five. The Panthers were led by their senior trio, as John Ames and Jonathan Robinson each had 18 points, while Kyle Lock had 14.
BHS fell on hard times during the final stretch of the season as it lost seven out of its final eight games. There was also history between these two regional powers, as they met in the 2017 playoffs. Delta was the lower seed then and beat the Wolverines in Bayfield to reach the state tournament.
BHS had four of five starters back from last year’s state championship team but couldn’t put it together down the stretch.
“I thanked the seniors for their time, and while it’s tough right now, when they sit back and reflect, they’ll realize how special their four years have been,” Chandler said. “It’s pretty remarkable, and I think it’s something that everybody can be proud of.”
Delta will face No. 12 Faith Christian in Saturday’s regional final.