Ready for their (new) close-up

Steve Lewis/Durango Herald file photo Seniors Candace Shaw (pictured) and Kayla Strobel lead the senior-heavy Bayfield High School girls basketball team; there are seven seniors on the Wolverines’ roster. Shaw – 16 points per game – and Strobel both average in double figures in scoring.

By Dale Strode Herald staff writer

The Wolverines can’t wait to see some new faces.

Not that they haven’t found success against the familiar mugs from the Intermountain League.

But that IML success, a district title and an 18-3 record mean the Bayfield girls basketball team will host the Class 3A Region 4 Tournament today and Saturday. And that means new faces at the Bayfield High School gym.

“What I’m excited about is playing someone who we don’t share the ... same zip code,” Bayfield head coach Ronnie Posey said. The rigors of last weekend’s IML District Tournament and a third meeting with Monte Vista and IML rival Pagosa Springs was a difficult challenge, Posey said.

“When you sneak a third win away from Pagosa Springs ... that’s something,” Posey said of the Wolverines’ dramatic fourth-quarter comeback against the Pirates in the IML tournament championship game last Saturday.

“We’re ready to play someone not quite so familiar,” Posey said with an eye on today’s 7 p.m. game against No. 27 seed Gunnison (7-15).

The Wolverines, with a school-record 18 wins, were seeded No. 6 in the Class 3A field of 32 teams.

No. 11 Peak to Peak of Lafayette (15-7) will play No. 22 Grand Valley (12-10) at 5 p.m. today in the Bayfield regional, the first of three games this weekend at BHS.

The winners of tonight’s games will play at 1 p.m. Saturday for the regional title and a trip to the elite eight at Colorado State University in Fort Collins next weekend.

Gunnison will bring new and unexpected faces to Bayfield for tonight’s matchup with the Wolverines. The Gunnison girls played into the regionals by upsetting Roaring Fork of the Western Slope League last weekend after finishing sixth in the conference in the regular season.

The Cowgirls also own a victory over Pagosa Springs – 33-26 in early December 2011. A defensive-minded club, Gunnison is averaging 36 points per game.

The Wolverines will counter with their high-rpm offense and pressure defense; they’re averaging 56 points per game.

Seniors Candace Shaw and Kayla Strobel lead the senior-heavy team; there are seven seniors on Posey’s varsity roster. Shaw and Strobel both average in double figures in scoring: Shaw averages 16 points and seven rebounds per game; Strobel averages 15 points and a team-high 3.6 steals per game.

The Wolverines have lost only once to a Class 3A team – at Centauri last month. Their other losses came to 4A playoff teams Piedra Vista in New Mexico and Delta in Colorado.

Today’s first matchup will feature the Peak to Peak Pumas of the Metropolitan League against the Grand Valley Cardinals of the Western Slope League.

The Pumas’ only losses this season came against state playoff teams, including defeats at the hands of No. 1 Holy Family and No. 2 Bishop Machebeuf (twice) and No. 9 Faith Christian.

The Pumas are led by highly regarded Khadijah Sayyid, a senior who averages 20 points per game. Teammate Ivy Devries scores 12 a game for Peak to Peak. Linnea Danielson adds nine points and nine rebounds per game.

The Grand Valley team from Parachute, averaging 43 points per game, is led by Ashlynn Speakman and Haley Johnson. Speakman is the leading scorer at 12 per game, while Johnson averages 10 points per game and seven rebounds.

“These girls did a lot of work over a year to get here,” Posey said of the regional playoffs at BHS. “What a great opportunity for us. But we’ve still got to go out ... and play.”

The top seeds and regional hosts this weekend in Class 3A girls basketball are No. 1 Holy Family (21-1), No. 2 Machebeuf (21-1), No. 3 Eaton (21-1), No. 4 Trinidad (22-0), No. 5 Olathe (20-2), No. 6 Bayfield (18-3), No. 7 Denver Science and Technology (21-1) and No. 8 Brush (19-3).

The elite eight of the CHSAA Class 2A Girls Basketball State Championships will play March 8-10 at CSU in Fort Collins.

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