Lady Wolverines, Artesia ring in 2014
Written by: Joel Priest
Two-a-days immediately before New Year’s Day?
That was Briana Simbeck’s present to her girls’ basketball team this week, and apparently few seemed to mind.
“The girls actually responded really well,” Bayfield’s head coach said Monday evening. “And people that were sick are doing a lot better now. We’re really excited just to be back on the basketball court!”
Even if it meant prematurely ending the Lady Wolverines’ holiday break, in effect, three to four days early and resuming the non-league portion of their 2013-14 schedule with inclusion in this weekend’s “Rumble in ‘The Jungle’” hosted by the Lady Tigers of Aztec, New Mexico.
But Simbeck knows her team could face strong resistance from Artesia, N.M., during Day 1 inside Lillywhite Gymnasium.
“They have one girl that’s six-one, one that’s six feet,” she said, anticipating Thursday’s 4:30 p.m. slated tip, “and a couple more that are five-ten. So that will be a good challenge for our post players.”
The Lady Bulldogs were off to a 3-2 overall (but no District 4-4A games yet) start under Coach Jeff Houghtaling, including a 2-1 showing at their own City of Champions Classic, highlighted by a 67-44 win over a tough El Paso (Tex.) Bowie bunch before a loss the next day to in-state Lovington—the NMAA’s reigning 3A State Champions.
Averaging just 36.5 points per game, Aztec will be hungry for a solid showing at their ‘Rumble,’ as opposed to their result at the Classic, where they sank to 1-7 (no 1-4A games) after a loss to Bowie and consolation-round losses to in-state 3A Ruidoso and 4A Santa Teresa.
Bayfield’s JV will challenge Aztec’s JV following BHS-Artesia. Other teams likely—even Simbeck herself had not a finalized itinerary as of Dec. 30—to attend, in no order and all from N.M., are:
Surging 4A Española Valley (coming in off a 3-0 showing at the St. Michael’s Christmas Tournament in Santa Fe, Dec. 26-28), 4A Gallup Miyamura, 3A Bloomfield, 3A [Fort] Wingate, 2A Tohatchi, and the Bloomfield JV. Requests made of AHS’ office for additional information had not been returned by press time, probably due to targeted teams weighing their weekend’s options.
“It’s definitely a winnable tournament for us,” stated Simbeck, conceding the Lady Wolverines (1-3, 0-0 3A Intermountain) will lack feisty freshman guard Kyle Baker, who did practice somewhat this week but will be benched to grant her left knee extra healing time.
She hurt it Dec. 21 against 3A Shiprock, N.M.
BROUGHT IN SOME BAYFIELD: When Kerry Taylor retired, effective Sept. 20, after being hired as Aztec’s assistant principal and athletic director prior to the 2012-13 school year, former Bayfield School District superintendent Dean Hill (a former Aztec High principal and most recently a teacher at Farmington, before his own ‘retirement’) was summoned to temporarily fill the dual vacancy.