OURAY COUNTY – Nobody told the Wolverines it was over Tuesday night.
But when Ridgway senior Courtney Southall’s last-ditch 3-pointer dinged off the rim as the final buzzer sounded, both the nonleague contest and Bayfield’s 10-game losing streak were history, with BHS extracting a 41-38 road victory.
“We really wanted this win, and we worked hard together and pulled through as a team,” said junior Madison ‘Maddie’ Mead. “I think that was the best we’ve ever, like, clicked; that really worked in our favor.”
“I would say it’s a comeback story,” sophomore Renae Foutz said. “All of us, every single player, came back. Not just one person; all of us came back to win this game.”
That still would be an understatement.
Able to hang with perimeter-potent RHS through two quarters, despite the Demons closing out the second with a 6-2 burst to take a 22-15 halftime lead, the Wolverines found themselves in a dangerous spot after 3-pointers by Ridgway’s Kaitlyn Winkelmann and Adelyn Gardiner increased BHS’ deficit to 33-21 with 4:06 left in the third.
BHS head coach Lauren Moran called a timeout, but after Foutz promptly buried an apparent 3-pointer officials ruled a long two, neither side managed anything more offensively as the quarter’s last 3:06 disappeared. For the Wolverines (3-10, 0-6 3A/4A Intermountain), well, that was all right.
“We were thinking it was going to be similar to Cortez – and we’d really wanted to beat Cortez … then didn’t,” Foutz said, referring to a 39-24 loss at fellow 3A IMLers Montezuma-Cortez on Saturday. “So this was our chance at redemption. We reminded ourselves that one turnover isn’t the whole game, and that we could pull through. And we just tried to keep our energy up. Even if we had … a turnover or missed shot, we kept going.”
Plus, with both Winkelmann and freshman Sophia Forrest in foul trouble after knocking down a combined five treys, as well as Bayfield’s defense tightening and denying RHS second-chance opportunities, the guests were positioned to pull off something special.
“Once we got into the second half, we were ready to play and … wanted the ball,” said BHS senior Alaysia Kremer. “The first half we didn’t, but now we did.”
Foutz (11 points) began the fourth quarter with a triple and followed it with a long baseline deuce off an inbounds pass. Foutz then came away with a steal and though she missed the breakaway layup, Kremer was there for the put-back – pressuring RHS skipper Phillip Winkelmann to take a timeout with 6:29 remaining and BHS on a 9-0 run.
Kaitlyn Winkelmann then fed Gardiner for a close-range hoop, but Kremer answered by putting back another rebound. Mead then sank a free throw, and Foutz quickly picked Winkelmann’s pocket and zipped the rock to Kremer, who tied the game at 35-35.
Ridgway’s collective frustration began to noticeably mount with every miscue, and Bayfield sensed a stunner was in sight after junior Michelle Kirk canned a go-ahead free throw with 3:27 left.
Winkelmann (8 points) fouled out with 90 ticks to go, and Mead nailed both free throws to grow the guests’ lead to 40-35. The Demons (3-9, 2-3 2A/1A San Juan Basin) would get one last three from Forrest, giving her four treys and a team-high 12 points, but nothing more. During one late sequence, Kirk came up with a crucial rejection on a corner three, and after Gardiner managed to recover the ball, Foutz intercepted her escape pass to the wing.
“We switched to, basically, a full man defense, and kind of started to press a little bit just so we could try to deny that better,” Mead (9 points) said, discussing how BHS countered RHS’ outside shooting. “It was definitely more work and more difficult, but we were able to keep them from scoring a little bit.”
“Once we all started seeing our points go up, and seeing how much we can actually work together, we wanted it more than anything,” said Kremer, who totaled a game-high 16 points and snared 10 rebounds.
Mead fouled out with 31 seconds left, and Forrest did likewise 16 seconds later. Foutz missed her two free throws as Bayfield shot just 6-of-19 from the stripe, but after Ridgway couldn’t find first option Gardiner (7 points), the ball ended up in Southall’s hands. Having substituted in to replace Forrest, her desperation three from the right wing didn’t miss by much … but, to the Wolverines’ relief, missed.
“We needed this so bad,” Foutz said. “It’s hard to keep losing over and over again, and you start to go into games with this mentality that you’re going to lose, so we really wanted to fight for this game. And I thought for a second there that they were going to pull away – we were down by 12 – but we pulled through.”
Bayfield will resume IML work Friday in La Jara at CHSAANow.com’s No. 3-ranked Centauri (13-2, 6-0).