Jerry McBride/Durango Herald
Bayfield had its eyes locked on ruining Durango’s homecoming.
The Wolverines and Demons were entangled an evenly matched girls basketball game, with Bayfield High School up 36-34 after three quarters.
But when the page turned to the fourth quarter, Durango’s switch flipped – emphatically.
The Demons opened the fourth quarter on a 14-0 run and put Tuesday’s game in a chokehold, claiming a 54-43 victory over Bayfield at Durango High School in the Demons’ home opener.
DHS (3-2) finally was able to get its pressure defense dialed in without fouling in the final frame. And the shots started falling, particularly for Molly Barnes, who missed her first five 3-point attempts.
After a Shanelle Bogus layup opened Durango’s scoring in the fourth, Barnes reeled off 10 consecutive points, burying a pair of triples and using nice ball fakes to get around the defense for easy layups.
“So much easier. Whenever Molly’s on, it’s always a great thing because she’ll hit (3s) all the time, all day,” forward Emily McCue said.
The senior guard finished with 15 points and six rebounds.
“It was a really good boost, and I thought I was going to have an off night, but I just kept shooting because people tell me to keep going. I’m glad I did because I started hitting them,” said Barnes, daughter of Joe Barnes and Carol Cunefare.
McCue’s jumper capped the decisive run, which turned a 36-34 deficit into a 48-36 advantage with 4 minutes, 46 seconds to go. She was a catalyst all night for the Demons, helping the offense through a few rough spells and finishing with 17 points on 6 of 8 shooting and seven rebounds, and the senior credited her teammates’ alert passing for freeing her up for one of her best games at DHS.
“My teammates just found me. I was just trying to get open, and they found me,” said McCue, daughter of Frank and Julie McCue. “And Alyssa (Montoya) and Molly were hitting their 3s, and Shanelle (Bogus) was getting killer rebounds, so it wasn’t just me at all.”
Fouls helped keep the Wolverines neck and neck with Durango throughout, as Bayfield took advantage of overeager defenders to get to the line.
Bayfield (1-2), led in scoring by Haley Clarke and Jaida Ross with 14 each, had a 22-5 advantage in free throw attempts at halftime and made 21 of 39 from the line on the game against just a 7 of 12 night for Durango.
The Demons, however, used positioning adjustments from head coach Nancy Smith in the fourth quarter to limit the damage and keep Bayfield from breaking their press as easily as they had earlier in the game.
“Just moving their feet. We talked about positioning, making sure they were far enough away that they had room to move when the offense did,” Smith said. “And the angle. They were playing flat instead of steering them to the sideline.
“A missle’s coming one direction, and if you just run right at it, they’re going to blow past you.”
Other than the decisive run, there weren’t too many chances provided to pull away. Turnovers had a lot to do with that. The Wolverines lost possession 29 times, while Durango turned it over 23 times. The Demons held a 42-31 edge on the glass, as well.
A 3-2 start has Durango nearly at its five-win total from all of last season, and both Barnes and McCue said chemistry has everything to do with the more visible air of confidence Durango seems to be carrying itself with. Having everyone involved doesn’t hurt either, as Smith played all nine members of her varsity roster.
Durango will host another regional Class 3A rival when Pagosa Springs comes to town Dec. 20.