Only 11 girls get to make the trip from Bayfield to Fort Collins for the CHSAA Class 3A Girls Basketball State Championships this weekend, but an entire community might as well be going with them.
Bayfield High School packed its gymnasium Wednesday morning for a pep rally of basketball history, words from the Wolverines coaches and players, the Bayfield bands blaring rendition of Neil Diamonds Sweet Caroline and a long tunnel of Bayfield bodies that ushered the team of Wolverines off toward Colorado State University.
Its the first time in 31 years the Wolverines will be competing at the elite eight in the state tournament, and the Bayfield community cant think of a better group to embody its town.
All those girls, they totally represent our community, said Marie Knickerbocker, mother of junior guard Micaela Knickerbocker. Theyre good girls; theyre good students.
Marie Knickerbocker was one of about a dozen fans who gathered at the center of the roundabout near BHS with signs wishing the team well as they circled and honked their way out of town.
Bayfield cheerleader Morgann Box has watched the Bayfield girls play every home game from underneath the basket. Shes gotten to know their faces, and she said she likes to see the happiness in their eyes thats lit up since they locked up that tournament berth last week.
Box said all of the girls are well known in the high school as much for their basketball prowess as their kindness and personalities.
It is just amazing to see them do this, Box said. I think they deserve it. They really do represent the school.
BHS juniors Joe Pixton and James Young got to watch the pep rally from the stands. They, too, are excited for the girls to represent their school at Moby Arena on the CSU campus this weekend.
Pixton said the appearance gives Bayfield whose football team finished runner-up at this years 3A state tournament even more bragging rights. When Wolverines get in a beef with opposing high school students, they can point to their girls basketball team as evidence of the Wolverines prowess.
It feels like were going to put Bayfield back on the map, Young said.
If there was a buzz of excitement rippling in the Bayfield crowd Wednesday morning, it was tangible around the girls basketball players themselves.
I feel so excited right now. So excited! senior Tia Neeley almost shrieked, bouncing up and down before running through a tunnel of humans to the parking lot.
That excitement will have to quickly turn to concentration, though, as the sixth-seeded Wolverines prepare to take on Eaton at 7 p.m. today.
BHS head coach Ronnie Posey said Eaton is going to be a tough out. The Reds (23-1) made it to the state championship last year on their size and skill.
Theyre back. They know what it takes to get here. They have a pretty good idea of what it takes to win, Posey said.
So if the Wolverines are to pull off an upset over the No. 3 seed, Posey said his girls need to cut down on their unforced turnovers, see their passes before they make them and simply play their style of game with tight, fast defense and good rebounding.
Its partly patience, execution and just playing with no fear, Posey said.
Were not bringing anything new. Were pretty happy with where were at and what got us here.
We flat have to cut it loose tonight. ... Were the only thing that matters, Posey said. If we do what we can do, then weve taken care of business ... The truth of the matter is Eaton is just good so we just got to practice and get better.
Taylor Harrison will be one of those Wolverines responsible for taking care of the ball. She, too, said the Wolverines just need to do what they already know how to do.
Play like we play. Keep our tempo. Be smart. Have fun, said Harrison, one of seven seniors on the BHS roster.
Depending on todays results, the Wolverines on Friday will play either No. 2 Bishop Machebeuf or No. 7 Denver School of Science and Technology in the final four or in the consolation bracket.
I expect us to go out there and no matter what happens, well be playing together, Bayfield senior Kayla Strobel said.