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Host Wolverines hope for fresh start at Classic

BHS faces tough competition at first home games
Bayfield’s Landon Kennedy (32) leaps for a shot against Centauri last season inside BHS Gymnasium. The high-flying senior will lead the Wolverines into this weekend's BHS-hosted 2022 Four Corners Southwest Classic. (Joel Priest/Special to the Herald)

At long last, Bayfield’s boys will face competition on their home court.

But that’s about the only plus the Wolverines will be guaranteed at this weekend’s Four Corners Southwest Classic.

“It’s been good getting back in the gym; we’ve just got to keep getting better,” said head coach Klint Chandler. “We’re young, you know? So we’ve got to keep working on getting better each day.”

Bayfield basketball head coach Klint Chandler pumps up the Wolverines in a timeout during last season’s Four Corners Southwest Classic, hosted by Durango. BHS will host the tournament's 2022 edition on Friday and Saturday. (Joel Priest/Special to the Herald)

“The first part is getting to play at home for the first time,” he said, “which’ll be nice, instead of (being) on the road.”

Having played at Eaton, Buena Vista, Farmington and Blanding, Utah, Chandler’s developing crew – 1-5 overall and 0-0 3A Intermountain – will welcome 2A Ignacio, 3A Montezuma-Cortez and 4A Durango to BHS Gymnasium for varsity and junior-varsity action Friday and Saturday in the classic.

IHS and M-CHS will tip the tourney’s varsity-level portion off on Day 1 at 5 p.m. Friday, with Bayfield-Durango to follow about 7 p.m. Day 2 will get underway with DHS vs. M-CHS at 1 p.m., Saturday, with Ignacio-Bayfield following.

Ignacio’s Gabe Tucson grins before road action at Mancos earlier in his career. Now a senior and one of Class 2A’s highest per-game scorers, Tucson will lead the Bobcats into the Four Corners Southwest Classic on Friday and Saturday. (Joel Priest/Special to the Herald)

The junior varsity tournament will be played in BHS’ auxiliary gym. Friday action will include BHS and DHS at 5 p.m., and IHS and M-CHS at 7 p.m. Saturday will feature BHS and IHS battling at 1 p.m., followed by Durango and M-CHS.

“I think it’s going to go well,” Chandler said. “We’ve got to show up and protect our house. Hopefully we’ll be ready!”

Having faced opponents owning an aggregate 32-21 record going into Thursday’s games, the Wolverines – featuring seniors Landon Kennedy and Isaac Ross, and junior Lance Mazur – average 45.8 points per game, but concede 69.

Montezuma-Cortez's Sawyer Smith (23) explodes to the basket through a Durango Demon during last season's DHS-hosted Four Corners Southwest Classic. The Panthers will come to Bayfield Friday and Saturday looking to stop a three-game slide. (Joel Priest/Special to the Herald)

Last season’s Classic host, Durango (5-5, 0-0 4A/5A Southwestern) most recently went 0-3 at 5A Farmington’s Dec. 16-18 Marv Sanders Invitational, including a two-point loss to state 4A semifinalist Gallup, then a four-point loss to 4A Bloomfield, N.M. A larger 67-43 loss to FHS wasn’t too surprising; the Scorpions not only won all three of their tourney games, but as of Thursday had since improved to 11-1 overall.

Jacob Neubert of Durango High School battles in the key while playing Pagosa Springs earlier this season. The Demons will return to action Friday and Saturday at the Four Corners Southwest Classic in Bayfield. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

“We’ve got Durango, and it’ll be good. They’re big, you know, and we’re not,” said Chandler, alluding to Alan Batiste’s roster boasting six Demons listed at 6-feet-4 or bigger, led by 6-foot-6 senior Walter Stauffer and 6-foot-6 sophomore Jacob Neubert. “But like I said, we’re just young, and I think we’re going to have to go through some ups and downs.”

“Some of the kids didn’t play basketball last year, so they’re back at it this year,” he said. “And they’re good. I like ’em because they play hard and compete. We’re coming.”

Like DHS, Michael Hall’s M-CHS Panthers (2-3, 0-0 IML) will check in having lost three straight at Grand Junction’s Dec. 16-18 Tiger Invite. Chris Valdez’s IHS Bobcats (2-2, 0-0 2A/1A San Juan Basin) will look to have built up some momentum the night before, beginning SJBL play at home versus optimistic 1A Dove Creek (4-2, 0-0 SJBL) on Thursday.

Since Bayfield and Cortez both play in the IML, they won’t face each other in the Four Corners Southwest Classic. If two teams go 2-0, point differential will decide the champion.