Tymbree Florian knew she had a chance to give the Bayfield High School girls basketball team a great opportunity to start conference play when she went to the free-throw line with 9.3 seconds remaining in a time game at 47.
“Those last six (free throws), we knew we had to make them,” Florian said. “The game was on the line and there was no option. I’m so happy we did because I can’t remember the last time we went 1-0 to start the league.”
She sunk both free throws and had a game-high 19 points as Bayfield went on to win 53-47 over Montezuma-Cortez Saturday afternoon at Bayfield High School. It has been a long time since the Wolverines went 1-0, in fact, they haven’t started league play undefeated since the 2013-2014 season, when they beat Monte Vista in the league lid-lifter.
Bayfield led 47-45 with 24.5 seconds remaining when the teams exchanged bad inbound passes that resulted in turnovers. Cortez’s Malia Begay tied the game off a layup at 47 with 15 seconds remaining. Sophomore Cayanne Carlson received the inbounds pass, sprinted the length of the floor, and was fouled with 9.3 seconds left. The referees whistled a technical foul on Begay after the play was over, she made unnecessary contact with Florian away from the ball.
Carlson made the first two to give Bayfield the two-point lead, while Florian made her technical foul shots, and because of the technical, the Wolverines then got possession, as well. Macee Shultz was fouled and made her pair, which sealed the win for Bayfield.
Head coach Josh Kitchen was impressed with how his team showed composure down the stretch.
“The girls are young, but they’re so committed,” Kitchen said. “When we went down, because it seemed like even when we were down, we ere never out of it, we didn’t give in. They are working hard, and while we missed more free throws than any coach would want tonight, the beautiful thing about this team is that they’re going to bounce back and fight, and I think that’s going to define us as we go forward. Tonight was a great example of that.”
The Wolverines (3-4, 1-0 3A Intermountain League) were down for much of the second half, and while they never trailed by more than four points. The Panthers led by three after the end of the third quarter, 37-34, but could not hold onto the lead. BHS finally broke through at the 6:00 mark of the fourth quarter, when Shultz gave them their first lead of the half at 38-37. It was only their second lead of the game, and were last in the lead at the 3:04 mark of the first quarter.
Montezuma-Cortez (3-5, 0-2 IML) kept finding answers from Myra Simmons, who hit two 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 12 points, while center Paige Yarbrough was aggressive on the offensive rebounding end, and scored 12 points in the game, as well, but was held to just four second-half points. Bayfield outscored the Panthers 26-20 in the second half and 19-10 in the final quarter.
“It was a tough loss because we beat ourselves and had turnovers when they pressured us,” said Montezuma-Cortez head coach Tim Robinson. “We played like we were behind all night, and we just weren’t executing the way that I know we are capable of doing. We’ve got a lot of work this week, but it was a tough fought game and I wish we came out on top.”
Florian was the leading scorer for the Wolverines, Carlson had 18, while Shultz had 17.
Yarbrough led the way for MCHS, and Simmons also helped with her 12 points, while Aryanna Silas had six points.
For Florian, she understands how demanding the IML will be, but said Saturday’s win is more than just a step in the right direction.
“It’s a huge confidence booster,” Florian said. “Seeing that we’re 1-0 instead of 0-1 really means a lot. But we know that we can’t just stop here. We’re going to try and keep that record going, and we have to be strong moving forward ... and hopefully, we can go to 2-0 next week.”