BAYFIELD - In the end, there was nothing really mysterious about it.
Facing a nearly complete unknown on Friday night in the Thunderbolts from Rye, the Bayfield girls did what they do best.
They applied relentless full-court pressure.
They attacked the basket and put three of Rye's best in foul trouble early.
And they put the ball in the hands of their senior leader, Lindsey Shaw, who set a new school scoring record of 30 points as the Wolverines (17-4) advanced to the regional championship game today against Estes Park (17-6).
But while Shaw got the record and the accolades, BHS head coach Stephanie Dennison made sure the Wolverine defense - which forced Rye into 17 turnovers in the first half alone - got due credit for the win.
"These girls learned that press back when John Shaw was the coach here, and they learned it well," she said.
"We really had no information on Rye until Thursday, so we just worked on what we do best, and that's pressure defense."
To their credit, the Thunderbolts didn't blink under thepressure.
Down 15-6 at the end of the first quarter, Rye roared back on a pair of 3-pointers by Jaime Shrewsbury and Sarah Pigg. The visitors then made it a one-point game on an inside bucket from Kate Lesser, but some inspired play by Shaw and Jordan Sirios kept Bayfield in the lead.
Sirios, who scored 18 points in the game, responded three times in a row to the Thunderbolt charge, first with a rebound and a bucket and then with four consecutive shots from the free throw line.
Shrewsbury, who led the visitors with 16, answered with another 3 to bring her team back to within two, but that's when Shaw really kicked her game into gear.
She stole the ball and worked her way through traffic for a 27-21 Bayfield lead, then helped force a turnover that led to a pair of free throws by her sister Candace at the other end. To cap it off, Shaw stole the ball once more and took it coast-to-coast for a layup and a 10-point Wolverine lead.
"Lindsey has been playing her best basketball of the season over the last three games, scoring 22, 24, and now she scores 30 points," Dennison said. "But more than that, she's such a good leader out there. The other girls just want to play that much harder when she's out there."
With Rye still within striking distance at the start of the fourth quarter, Shaw put the game out of reach almost on her own. She opened the quarter with an open jumper, a steal and layup combination, and then another long distance, full-court drive and pull-up jumper to put Bayfield up 58-43.
She added three more steal and layup combinations before the game ended and finished by hitting a free throw to break Whitney Howard's scoring record (29) by one point.
After the game, Rye head coach Kyle Spencer said that from the Thunderbolts' point of view there was nothing mysterious about the Wolverines, either.
"They played big and physical, and we expected that," he said. "We didn't attack the basket, and we just couldn't get a lot of shots to fall."
Estes Park (17-6) defeated Olathe 52-43 in an earlier semifinal game in Bayfield on Friday afternoon. The Bobcats now face the Wolverines today in the regional championship at 1 p.m. in the Bayfield gym.
Again, there's no mystery going into the game.
Dennison said the Bobcats can expect more of the same, more pressure defense and more high-octane offense from Shaw.
"Same thing," she said. "We're going to bring our game."
"That defense is our strong point," she said. "And I know we're ready. It's about time we got out of the first round." email@example.com