Jerry McBride/Durango Herald
Bayfield’s Haley Clarke started the second half of Tuesday night’s game at Durango like a comet – Haley’s Comet.
The Bayfield High School junior flashed through the Demons’ pressure defense, drawing a foul in the lane early in the third quarter.
Clarke hit the first foul shot. The second bounced away, but Clarke chased down the rebound and hit a short bank shot.
Minutes later, Clarke drove again and dropped a textbook bounce pass to teammate Jaida Ross for a basket that helped the Wolverines cut into what had been a six-point DHS lead.
“I got pretty motivated when we were down at halftime,” Clarke said. “So, I went out strong in the second half.”
A Clarke steal, a Durango foul and two foul shots by Clarke set up the Wolverines to take a brief lead when Clarke swished two more free throws.
Another basket in the lane by Clarke with 4 seconds to play in the third quarter put the Wolverines up by two points heading into the final quarter.
Clarke scored nine points in the third quarter, and she finished with 14.
“We played very physical,” Clarke said of the nonconference game that featured an epidemic of fouls. The Wolverines shot 39 free throws in all, converting 21. Clarke was 8 of 10 from the line.
“Every single one of our players went as hard as they could go. We were back up for awhile (in the second half), but then they (Demons) got the best of us,” Clarke said after the Durango girls outscored the Wolverines 20-7 in the fourth quarter to beat Bayfield 54-43.
“Durango ... they really came out of nowhere (in the fourth quarter), and we were not ready for it,” said Clarke, daughter of Simon and Tica Clarke.
“They did an excellent job,” said Clarke, who credited the Demons for their impressive fourth-quarter surge.
“I play on a traveling team with those girls (from Durango), so I know them,” the BHS junior said.
“She (Clarke) is learning how to be an offensive threat,” Bayfield assistant coach Jacob Posey said.
Posey, who handled the bench coaching duties with a hand from his father, head coach Ronnie Posey, said Clarke did a lot of work on her game last summer.
“She’s doing a really good job,” Jacob Posey said.
The Wolverines battled though the Durango press and overcame 17 first-half turnovers to stay in the game.
“For the first three quarters ... we were patient for the most part,” Posey said.
But when the Demons made a run to open the fourth quarter, he said the Wolverines struggled to match their baskets.
“Anytime a team hits a couple of shots (in a close game), you have to match them,” Posey said.
“We didn’t necessarily show as much patience ... not necessarily patience but as much composure on offense (in the fourth quarter). You have to give them (Demons) credit.
“I didn’t feel like we got bad shots, but we were really tired. And that was probably my fault. I left the girls in the game too long,” Posey said after facing Durango’s pressure defense on the big 95-foot floor at Class 4A DHS.
The Wolverines (1-2) play the majority of their games on 85-foot floors around the Intermountain League.
“I think it does make a difference,” Posey said.
The Wolverines’ pressure defense on the big floor added to the fatigue factor.
“I think we did get a little tired in the fourth quarter, and we didn’t close out on their shooters,” Posey said.