Fri May 12th, 2017
Special to the Drum
Despite its reliance on young talent, if there was one Lady Bobcat who wasn’t surprised by the basketball squad’s progression – all the way to the Class 2A State Championships’ ‘Great Eight’ – on the hardwood this winter, it was senior Alejandra Lujan.
“You could say that,” she grinned after an outing late in the 2016-17 regular season “I think our freshmen really do look up to us [upperclassmen] in a way, but they also have their own thing. Because once we’re gone then it’s their game, and they’ve got to step it up. So it’s good for them to keep trying to get better and better.”
Making probably the biggest splash on the 2A/1A San Juan Basin League scene, forward/center Morgan Herrera earned Second Team All-League status despite missing basically the season’s first month due to injury. Averaging a reported 13.7 points and a powerful 10.9 rebounds per game during IHS’ 16-8 campaign, she teamed with Lujan and fellow freshman Makayla Howell to make for a vicious frontcourt.
Overall, Herrera received the seventh-most points (34) in the circuit coaches’ voting system, following Macie Magallon (42) of Norwood, probably any team’s most relied-on post other than Herrera. Also named Second Team were Nucla sophomore guard/forward Taylor Sickels, Telluride senior G/F Whitney Wells and Mancos senior center/forward Brittany Peacock.
Lujan (5.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg) earned Honorable Mention All-SJBL for her own blue-collar style of play, which could at times get her into foul trouble, but which couldn’t be discounted when a scrum for possession developed.
Also receiving Honorable Mention were Norwood senior forward Stephanie Ragsdale (5.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg), Ridgway senior forward Emma Copp (7.8 ppg), and Nucla senior guard/forward Carlie Wytulka (9.4 ppg, 10.9 rpg).
Awarded the second-most points (63) in the voting process, and thus Ignacio’s lone First Team All-League distinction was junior guard Avionne Gomez. Capable of handling the ball as Shane Seibel’s point guard, but even more deadly when shooting it playing the ‘two,’ Gomez averaged over 15 points per outing while approaching 40% accuracy from behind the three-point arc.
She also grabbed a reported five boards per game and came up with nearly three steals per.
With 71 points in the voting, Norwood junior guard Cortney Lemon headed up the First Team list. She also received Player-of-the-Year after averaging a reported 13.5 ppg (Magallon logged 16.2), 3.7 rpg and 4.0 spg in helping the Lady Mavs – led by Coach-of-the-Year Greg King – finish 17-5, with their only regular-season league loss coming inside IHS Gymnasium back on January 21.
A reported 47 percent long-range shooter, Lemon then led the Lady Mavericks’ recovery as they won their next ten games before the Lady ’Cats downed them again in the SJBL District Tournament. Non-league Center then pulled off a double-OT stunner in the next week’s regional phase to cut NHS’ season unexpectedly short.
Rounding out the First Team All-SJBL picks were Ouray senior forward Kayla Fairchild (15.7 ppg, 8.5 rpg), Ridgway senior guard Ara Norwood (13.9 ppg) and Dolores senior guard Madi Archuleta (8.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg).
Gomez also received CHSAANow.com/ColoradoPreps.com/MaxPreps.com Honorable Mention All-2A at season’s end after leading Ignacio to the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland.
The only other San Juan Basin Leaguer honored was Fairchild, an Honorable Mention All-1A choice after OHS finished 14-7 overall following a regionals loss to Antonito – which then ended up 23-2 after two unexpected ‘Great Eight’ losses up at University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.