Navajo Prep’s relentless full-court press caught the Bayfield High School girls basketball team off guard in Tuesday night’s season opener at BHS.
The Eagles (1-0) forced five steals in the opening four minutes to get off to a 7-2 lead and would not look back.
Navajo Prep, which made the semifinals of the New Mexico Activities Association Class 3A state tournament last season, came out firing as it made its first four shots of the game and continued to hamper Bayfield’s offense en route to a 72-27 victory.
Navajo Prep was led by Aliayah Johnson with 14 points, while Hailey Martin had 13 and Holly Walker had nine on 3-of-3 shooting from 3-point range. The Eagles finished with nine made 3-pointers.
Bayfield (0-1) was led by Madison Oltmanns, who had a game-high 15 points, while Aubree Farmer, Brooke Merchant and Macee Shultz each had three points.
“Navajo Prep plays with a lot of speed and that’s what killed us tonight,” BHS head coach Josh Kitchen said. “The girls were unable to handle it, unfortunately. We’re going to have to go back and rehash that stuff, and it’s hard to replicate that speed in practice.”
Bayfield trailed 21-7 after the first quarter. Navajo Prep head coach Rainy Crisp said she was pleased with how aggressive her team was on defense.
“The full-court press is something that we’ve been really focusing on, and this year we wanted to come out more aggressive defensively,” Crisp said. “We have the athletes to do it. We’re quick on the court, and so we want to really pressure teams and make them fumble the ball with our press.”
Even with a comfortable 21-point halftime lead, the Eagles’ defense continued to be relentless. Navajo Prep’s Holly Walker hit a 3-pointer to start the half, and that was just the start.
The Eagles went on an 11-0 run after they forced four consecutive steals, scored three layups and Laila Charley drilled a 3-pointer to blow the game wide open. The Eagles would go on to outscore BHS 30-9 in the third quarter and led 68-26.
As a result of the deficit, the fourth quarter was a running clock, and the game ended shortly after.
Bayfield will have a week to prepare for the Buena Vista Tournament, which will start Dec. 13.
“We have roughly nine practice days, and it’s huge to get that extra time in,” Kitchen said. “We’ve been competitive the last couple of years, and we want to get a few wins. This gives us a little to look at to say, ‘What did we do well?’ There were some good things from tonight, and I know the girls know what we’re going to have to work on, and hopefully, we can surprise some teams.”