Log In

Reset Password
News Education Local News Nation & World New Mexico

Shades of ’86

Bayfield Wolverines resemble ‘Great 8’ squad

Barely anyone remembers the last time the Bayfield High School boys basketball team advanced to the quarterfinals of the state championships.

The 28th-ranked Wolverines are playing in the Colorado High School Activities Association Class 3A State Championships Great 8 starting Thursday in Golden, reaching a stage they haven’t been since 1986 while embarking on a Cinderella postseason run.

Current assistant coach Trent Phelps played for BHS during that last state tournament run.

His son, freshman Ryan Phelps, and nephew, junior Zane Phelps, have provided big minutes to this year’s team, forming a familial bridge across nearly three decades.

“It’s unreal. It really is,” Trent Phelps said. “That’s kind of why I’ve coached for 11 years in this town is to get the boys back. I’ve always told them ‘I want you to have as much fun as I did.’ We had a lot of fun last weekend.”

The Wolverines took down two of the top-12 teams in the state on back-to-back nights, opening with a huge upset of No. 5 Pinnacle Charter School on the Timberwolves’ home floor in Thornton. They made recent history by downing Eaton in the Sweet 16 the next night.

Few outside of Bayfield’s locker room expected the Wolverines to win one game in the state tournament, let alone two. They barely even made the tournament and needed a last gasp win against Centauri in the third-place game of the district tournament to qualify.

“Right before the (Intermountain League Tournament), we decided we don’t want this to end,” said BHS senior Preston Hardy, son of Greg and Monna Hardy. “We just want to keep rolling, and we don’t want this to be over.”

The 1986 and 2015 teams share more similarities than last names, though.

Both squads emphasize their defense to a point of pride and run the fast break every time they can get out on the run.

The sense of camaraderie in this year’s batch of Wolverines reminds members of the 1986 squad of their own bond, too.

Four of them grew up in Gem Village playing basketball together every chance they could.

“It was just a special group,” said Curt Marlatt, who played in 1986 and now works as a line superintendent at the La Plata County Electric Association. “We had been playing ball together since elementary school. We were all friends. It was just good.”

They were good, too.

BHS advanced to the semifinals before Basalt High School broke their hearts.

The Wolverines led by as many as 12 or 17 points – depending on who you ask – but lost by just two.

“I had a sophomore center that stole the ball and went down the court,” then-head coach Butch Prior said of the final moments. “He couldn’t decide whether he was going to dunk or lay it up and got all out of control. That was a real disappointing time.”

The disappointment didn’t last long, as BHS rebounded the next day in the third-place game.

Quite a bar for this year’s edition to try and live up to, though they aren’t satisfied with just reaching the same point as their predecessors.

The 2014-15 Wolverines want more.

“I would always like my teams to surpass whatever my dad did,” said Ryan Phelps.


Mar 11, 2015
No five an island for Ignacio team

Reader Comments