Steve Lewis/Durango Herald
BAYFIELD – Something akin to the basketball-style Battle of Antietam marched into Bayfield High School on Friday night, only instead of casualties, the Bayfield girls’ basketball team and its Gunnison High School foe racked up what seemed like 23,000 turnovers.
And when the Wolverines vanquished their enemy’s offensive, it was to the tune of Bayfield’s own rendition of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” – “Glory, glory Bayfield High School,” a section of rowdy Wolverine students sang at the retreating Cowboys after they were defeated 55-44 in the first round of the CHSAA Class 3A Girls Basketball State Championships.
The No. 6 Wolverines turned over the ball 25 times in the victory, still less than the Cowboys’ 38 in a fast-paced game that gave both teams plenty of scoring opportunities. But on a 16-point and 11-rebound double-double from Candace Shaw, the Wolverines held off a last-quarter surge from the Cowboys, who trailed by low double digits for most of play.
“I like winning,” a smiling BHS head coach Ronnie Posey said. “ And we beat a good team.”
Even though the Wolverines jumped ahead early in the game with the help of Breetta Moe (13 total, including nine in the first quarter) and never gave up their lead, turnovers – almost half of which were traveling violations – inopportune fouls and missed shots at the rim let the Cowboys hang around long after the battle could have ended.
Even with her team-high point total, Shaw alone hit just 3 of 14 from the floor as 10 of her points came from the free-throw line. As a team, Bayfield shot 30 percent from the floor.
“I was over-thinking everything,” Shaw said.
Posey said he wasn’t sure if the girls were intimidated by Gunnison’s size and athleticism, but he said the Wolverines did miss “lots of” shots under the basket in addition to tossing away a few too many turnovers.
“When we were patient with the ball, we got what we wanted,” Posey said.“Our mentality is go, go, go.” Although it’s worked well for most of their now 19-3 season – a school record – the girls will need to be more composed if they are to succeed in the state tournament, he said.
“We can beat good teams,” Posey said. “We can play; we can play with these teams.”
The pace of the game also landed a couple of Wolverines in foul trouble as they tried to defend the back-door pass, which the Cowboys used to cut through Bayfield’s high-pressure, full-court press when it didn’t cause them to fumble away the possession.
Alyssa Nelson scored a game-high 18 points for the Cowboys, who were missing four players for breaking team rules.
Kayla Strobel, who scored 10 points for Bayfield, fouled out with more than six minutes left in the game. Keenan Moreta fouled out with two minutes to go, just before the Wolverines pushed their lead back to 10.
Ever since fifth grade, Shaw said Bayfield’s group of seven seniors set the goal of going to Colorado State University for the state tournament. A win today over Peak to Peak, who beat Grand Valley 52-32 earlier Friday, and the Wolverines will reach Fort Collins.
“I think in my whole heart that we deserve it,” Shaw said.