It was exam day Saturday at Bayfield High School.
The Bayfield boys basketball team put together everything they’ve learned so far this season in a test against the Intermountain League-leading Alamosa Mean Moose.
The Wolverines didn’t ace it, but after putting together what coach Bill Hesford called the team’s best performance of the season, Bayfield will have to settle for a B. The Mean Moose beat the Wolverines 53-43.
“We’re getting smarter,” sophomore Preston Hardy said. “That’s what we have to live by right now. We’re a smart group of kids.”
For the most part Saturday, the Wolverines cruised through their test questions, hitting shrewd passes to run efficient plays. They outworked the Mean Moose for all but about three minutes, but those minutes swung the game.
Hardy led all scorers with 17 points, picking up most of them down low, where Hesford said he’s most valuable rather than fading to the fringes as can be his tendency.
“He’s got some good stuff inside,” Hesford said.
Geoff Pope scored nine including two 3 pointers. John Fisher led the Wolverines off the glass with eight rebounds.
“Those kids play physical basketball,” Hesford said.
But the Moose ripped through a 10-0 run to start the second half and overtake the Wolverines, who led 23-16 at the break. Those points nearly were the only points Bayfield gave up in transition on the night, but they led to a 17-4 third quarter in which Hardy was Bayfield’s only scorer. That put the Wolverines on their heels for good heading into the final frame down 33-27.
“We came out of the locker room and had a lapse in the first three minutes,” Hesford said. “That was the killer.”
“If we could’ve found a way to come out and get angry, we would’ve won that game,” Hardy said. “Fell asleep in the locker room and came out lazy.”
From there on, the Mean Moose played keepaway, controlling the ball and forcing the Wolverines into risky takeaway attempts or fouls.
In the last quarter, Bayfield inched within four at 36-32, but Alamosa got hot from the foul line.
The Moose hit 16 of 18 free throws in the fourth quarter to maintain their gap. Zachary Meyer added a couple of those to top the Alamosa scoring chart with 16 points.
The Wolverines jumped to a similarly hot start to kick off the game but from all over the floor. They got contributions all around to build a 14-6 lead, before Alamosa began to chip away with it in the second quarter.
“I don’t like losing basketball games, but as far as performance, we played the best team basketball that we have all year,” Hesford said.
“That definitely should be a confidence-builder for our guys.”
Bayfield (2-11, 0-3 IML) will host Ignacio at 7 p.m. Tuesday at BHS.