The last time Bayfield High School was in the state basketball semifinals was in 1986.
Bayfield went into the tournament at the Air Force Academy with a 17-2 overall record. They beat Rye 73-68 and then faced tournament favorite Basalt in the semifinals. BHS led that game 47-30 going into the fourth quarter and by 11 with three minutes left. Basalt had made only five free throws in the first three quarters but was 14-of-18 in that final stanza to tie the game 60-60.
With the game tied in overtime, Bayfield sophomore Lee Cobb blocked a Basalt shot, but it was retrieved by a Longhorn who threw up a wild one at the buzzer, and Bayfield lost 66-64.
It was the last time Bayfield made it to the state tournament for 30 years, finally going in 2015 where, coincidentally, they lost a consolation game to Alamosa.
The leading player for Bayfield was senior Trent Phelps. Trent averaged 18.8 points per game that season. For the second consecutive year, he was the top vote getter in the SJBL balloting for all-league. Trent is the father of this year’s star senior forward Ryan Phelps.
The Bayfield coach was Butch Prior, grandfather of this year’s point guard Keyon Prior.
The Wolverines won the third-place game over Crowley County to finish the year 19-3. The best record for Bayfield’s boys since that 1986 season was a 19-4 record in 2006. This year’s team is 17-7 after the victory Thursday night against Alamosa. A state championship would give them 19 wins.
Bayfield has played in two state title games in 1966 and 1970. The 1970 senior-laden team finished 20-4, losing the championship game to Merino 67-52 at the Denver Coliseum. The Wolverines’ other three losses were all to Ignacio, who was undefeated until Bayfield won the fourth match against them for the league title at Fort Lewis College. Only the league champion advanced to the state tournament. Ignacio had beaten Bayfield by 16 in a Christmas tournament, then 24 and then by 44 before the Wolverines won the deciding game 68-66.
The 1966 championship game in Denver was against Wiggins, a 63-56 loss. Bayfield had beaten Cheyenne Wells and Granada to get to the finals. The Wolverines finished 21-3 that season.
Dan Ford is a high school sports historian. He can be reached at www.danfordsports.net.