Buried by the double bonus

Free throws push No. 2 Centauri past BHS girls

BAYFIELD – The double bonus buried the Wolverines.

The No. 2-ranked Centauri Falcons scored 11 fourth-quarter points from the foul line to hold off a near comeback by the Bayfield High School girls basketball team and win 59-53 on Friday night at BHS.

Although the Falcons, ranked second in Class 3A by The Denver Post, hit just 55 percent of their final-frame free throws, the barrage of early double-bonus opportunities added too much to a hill of other little miscues that proved too high to climb for the Wolverines, who still played inspired basketball to hang with a “really good ball team,” head coach Ronnie Posey said.

Centauri’s Tori Fringer scored four of her game-leading 18 points on free throws in the final quarter, and Taylor Wilson knocked down six freebies as part of her 17 to stuff the Bayfield comeback and keep the Falcons perfect in the Intermountain League.

“That’s tough when you’re giving up two shots,” Posey said.

“There are things we can count that will make a difference.”

But the Wolverines fixed many of those things after a first half that included 22 Bayfield turnovers in the face of a full-court Centauri press.

“We didn’t come out as hot as we should have,” said Destini McGhehey.

“Just stupid errors.”

Bayfield trailed 36-24 at the halfway mark, just two points short of their largest deficit of the evening.

Micaela Knickerbocker led the rally attempt herself, directing the Wolverines’ defense to tighten up and give the offense opportunities to cut into the Falcons’ lead.

“Just played hard nosed,” Posey said.

Wilson, who scored nine first-quarter points on three consecutive 3-pointers, disappeared under the pressure and four fouls in the third quarter.

“Then, we held her pretty well in check,” Posey said.

On offense, too, Knickerbocker set the example, converting steals and turning fast breaks into easy layups. Knickerbocker led the Wolverines with 17 points on the night

“She’s a quarterback,” Posey said. “She understands the game well.”

McGhehey followed her lead, even putting in some wild runs through the paint to finish with seven points to help the Wolverines win the third quarter and pull within six points at 38-46. Haley Clarke and Chanel McCloskey each scored eight, more than half of those points on free throws as the Wolverines shot 77 percent from the line.

Asked which of his players stood out in the attempted comeback, Posey said “Can you list 10 girls?

“There’s not a let up with this team. We don’t feel like we have to hide anybody,” Posey said, nodding to his bench as putting forth good effort.

After a run of a double-bonus free throws opened back up a 10-point gap in the fourth quarter, the Wolverines closed within five on a McCloskey 3-pointer with just more than a minute to play, but the stalling Falcons let the Bayfield girls no closer.

“Besides the fact that we lost, it was a great ending,” Knickerbocker said. “I don’t know if you’d call it a booster, but it definitely encouraged us a little bit.”

Bayfield (7-6 overall, 1-2 IML) plays Alamosa at 1:30 p.m. today at BHS.