Wolverines thump Montezuma-Cortez
Written by: Joel Priest
By Joel Priest
Times sports correspondent
For a short moment, but right when they needed a bit of a boost well into the third quarter, the Lady Panthers’ best offensive option Tuesday evening was wearing a Bayfield uniform.
Reacting instantly to a defensive rebound hot in her hands, BHS freshman—as fate would humorously have it—Bridget Goddard calmly knocked down a 10-foot jumper to the surprise of both teams, as well as everyone else inside Ron Wright Memorial Gymnasium.
“She’s been working really hard in practice to be able to get her spot on varsity, so I think when she got the rebound she was just really excited—just put it right up,” said senior Haley Clarke, “without even thinking about it. But…it was no harm to our team.”
With a three-pointer on the home team’s next possession, Montezuma-Cortez junior Katrina Lee—who may have been credited with Goddard’s wrong-way points, likely being the closest offensive player to the shot—pulled the locals back to 19-18, but that was as close as they would approach.
And Goddard was among the most instrumental in the Lady Wolverines’ decisive separation, draining her next attempt—following another rebound, one of her five—to put the guests ahead 27-21, en route to a 42-30 victory and a split of a four-game extended weekend.
“After losing two games, we were really discouraged. Then we had a meeting as a team, really decided that those losses don’t really matter,” Clarke said, referring to non-league defeats in Aztec, N.M., last month. “Like, we have one win—let’s use that to get our streak going into league. So I think all of us really improved this game…we needed it for confidence.”
Maintaining the momentum gained in a 41-33 win over Aztec’s varsity three days before, BHS bolted out to a 13-1 lead through one quarter against Montezuma (0-7, 0-0 4A/5A Southwestern) and held an 18-10 advantage going into halftime. Senior Jaida Ross booked nine of her game-high 20 points. The memory of a 22-point, 18-rebound eruption versus the Lady Tigers obviously still very fresh.
“It felt nice; the last two days I’ve sat on the bench ’cause of foul trouble,” she said at the Montezuma game. “And it felt nice to just get out and play the whole game, help my team.”
“Because it was their varsity…it gave us some motivation to go win some more games.”
Added head Coach Briana Simbeck:
“Jaida, she’s really stepping up for us. And I’m putting a lot of pressure on her—I told ’em in practice if it’s one-on-one I’m expecting Jaida’s going to score or get fouled.We really try to isolate her…let her do her thing! She’s developing into a…really big leader.”
Erasing the memory of a one-point outing in the consolation-final win over Aztec, Clarke bounced back against M-CHS with nine points and eight boards (Ross led with nine), and junior Jessie Roukema posted six and six while also aiding in the team-wide effort to eliminate Lady Panther guard Simone Lopez—scoreless, except for a rainbow three-point shot over Andrea Zelinski with just 43 seconds remaining.
“We didn’t particularly play her—we all just worked really hard. As a team, we shut her down so she didn’t have anyone to pass to,” said Clarke. “We’ll definitely take this game as a good success.”
“Defensive intensity is what really leads us and gets us into rhythm on offense,” Simbeck stated after Bayfield’s 1-2 record at the Aztec tourney. The losses [82-52, and 50-46] were from Artesia, N.M., and Aztec’s underrated JV—led by a driven 24-point performance from eighth-grader Myra McCaskill.
“We definitely have a lot to learn from,” Zelinski had said after the 30-point setback on Day 1, in which she registered a team-high 14 points, “and I know we can get better from that.”
“Last year we did lose to them, and we wanted to come back…show ’em how much we’ve improved. And we had a really good first quarter; we came out really hard!”
Running at the Artesia Lady Bulldogs’ pace, Bayfield actually led 17-16 after eight solid minutes and trailed through sixteen by only nine [38-29] before Artesia’s senior backcourt of Madison Willingham (19 points) and Alexis Aguirre (20) triggered a 27-point third quarter with three (of seven combined) triples.
Ross posted 11 points and 10 rebounds, Clarke had eight points, Aspen Smith seven and Roukema six. Six-foot junior Madison Houghtaling and 6’1” senior Samantha Matthews totaled 19 points in the low post.
“Artesia—they had the most competition for us,” Ross said, “so it’ll help us for future games.”
“We can push ourselves more from them,” echoed Smith. “They help us get tougher.”
Ross went off against the Aztec JV for 14 points and 13 boards, with Clarke adding ten and seven and Roukema seven and 11 as BHS climbed out of a 32-18 third-quarter hole to go ahead 45-44 in the fourth on a steal-and-score by Smith (eight points) before the Lady Tigers re-took the lead for good via two Laila Mitchell free throws with 0:29 remaining.
“I think they were tired but I told them to bear through it,” said Simbeck. “Push through it, and we’ll start getting our energy back when we start getting our defense going; that’s what I felt was lacking.”
“The scoreboard didn’t reflect all the positive things that I was seeing,” she continued. “We didn’t put up as many points as I want us to in the future, but…. To…get a little revenge against [Aztec] was really important for our morale. I was happy to see the girls respond the way they did.”
Now 3-5 overall, the Lady Wolverines’ next game—also their Intermountain League opener, designated a ‘PURPLE-OUT!’ date for fans—is next Friday at home against Monte Vista.
RESULTS FROM THE ‘RUMBLE’: 1.Espanola (N.M.) Valley, 2.Gallup (N.M.) Miyamura, 3.Artesia, 4.Tohatchi (N.M.), 5.BAYFIELD, 6.Aztec, 7.Wingate (Ft. Wingate, N.M.), 8.Aztec JV.
THE ALL-‘RUMBLE’ TEAM: Ashlynn Trujillo, soph., G (MVP), EV; Kaitlyn Romero, soph., G, EV; Presleigh Smiley, sr., G, MIY; Madison Willingham, sr., G, ART; Kalian Mitchell, 8th, G, TOH.
NOTES: Rather than facing Wingate for seventh place, Bayfield was moved back into the consolation-round finale due to tournament officials deciding against an all-Aztec matchup in the game….
EVHS (10-3) nipped Miyamura (7-4) for the title, 37 to 36 on a Romero bucket within the last ten seconds. Artesia (5-5) edged THS for third, 50 to 47, and WHS downed Aztec’s JV 59-46 for seventh.