The defending Class 3A state champion Bayfield High School boys basketball team will have a long road to get back to the state playoffs after it lost in the Class 3A Intermountain League tournament semifinals to host Montezuma-Cortez in a 66-59 game Saturday afternoon.
Three players on each side had double-figures, as the high-scoring game lived up to the other two offensive duels during the regular season.
Teagan Whiteskunk led all scorers with 25 points for the Panthers, while Titus Jackson had 13 and Jens Jorgensen scored 12. Bayfield was led by Hayden Farmer’s 22 points, while Keyon Prior had 17 and Turner Kennedy finished with 12.
Bayfield (11-9) was in it late, as it was down by two with under two minutes to go. BHS head coach Klint Chandler thought his team played hard but could not come up with the big shots down the stretch.
“We were in it there at the end, but really my main takeaway was their ability to clean the glass, and they outrebounded us,” Chandler said. “I think that was the big difference, and give them credit. They knocked down 12-of-15 free throws in the fourth, and went 12-for-12 down the stretch.”
Cortez (16-5), the No. 3 seed in the tournament, came out aggressive early and took a 13-12 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Wolverines responded by outscoring the Panthers 17-11 in the second frame and took a 29-24 lead into the locker room.
In the second half, it continued to be a back-and-forth battle, as Bayfield led by one at 45-44 heading into the last quarter.
“In the fourth, it just came down to a few possessions there,” Chandler said. “I’ve said that this league is tough. When it comes down to just a few possessions to take control of the basketball game, you know, every team in this league has those type of playmakers you want on the floor, and they were out there for us, but some shots just didn’t bounce our way today, and I thought the rebounding really hurt us, especially late in the game.”
Montezuma-Cortez will play for the league championship game against the No. 4 seed Alamosa, as the Mean Moose beat top-seed Centauri in the other semifinal.
The Wolverines will now take on Centauri in the third-place game. Tipoff is at 2:30 p.m. Monday at Montezuma-Cortez High.
“This league really does test you for the playoffs, and we’ve got to finish strong before regionals begin,” Chandler said. “It’s going to be a battle from here on in, and really, the postseason begins Monday.”