Fri Mar 1st, 2019
Special to the Drum
Possibly the most unassuming player on the floor, it was unlikely nobody participating in the 2019 Class 2A-District 3 Tournament swished a greater shot than Keegan Schurman.
Finding himself with the ball on the left wing during the final regulation minute of the final game on the event’s first day (Saturday, Feb. 23), and Ignacio having trailed upset-minded (and certainly capable) Dolores ever since early in the first quarter, the junior guard not only brought fans inside 4A Durango’s DemonDome out of their seats with a sudden, game-tying three-pointer, but was fouled by Bear senior Dakota Smith – a player of much greater physical stature.
Having shown glimpses of his ability throughout the season, the Bobcats weren’t exactly surprised as relieved to look up at the scoreboard and finally see a 49-49 score with 0:44 remaining.
“Keegan’s been doing good lately,” said sophomore guard Triston Thompson. “He’s been getting rebounds over big people, and … probably one of the best players on the team.”
His backcourt role made all the more important when sophomore point man Brady McCaw fouled out 26 seconds earlier, Schurman converted the incredible four-point play by making the bonus free throw, making DHS’ stall tactics utilized throughout much of the second half appear all for naught.
But Dolores managed to regain a one-point lead and hold it until fouling, of all people, Schurman. With only 13 ticks left, Schurman managed to hit one of two pressure-packed freebies and sent the event’s second semifinal, Mancos had defeated Telluride 71-57 earlier in the evening, into overtime.
With little time to recharge, the Bears took the ’Cats to task and built up a 58-51 lead during the four-minute stanza before IHS finished with another ultra-dramatic flourish. Thompson buried a trey from the right wing, in front of skipper Chris Valdez, with 0:15 left, cutting DHS’ lead to 58-54.
Fouled after Valdez called a timeout, Smith canned two clutch FTs of his own. But Thompson was able to again connect from the same spot for three more points in reply, and the Bobcats trailed 60-57 with 0:06 still left.
“He hits the two big threes, kind of sparks the team. And once you get a spark like that … everybody starts getting into the game, transitioning, passing and shooting,” Valdez said. “It takes that, but you need that to happen throughout the game.”
With no other choice to save time, Thompson was forced to foul out and send Bear Will Swagerty to the charity stripe with 0:05 remaining. Swagerty, whose older brother Tristen’s ten first-quarter points were instrumental in initially putting the ’Cats in comeback mode, coldly sank both tries to rebuild the designated visitors’ lead back up to five points.
Ignacio sophomore forward Bryce Finn managed to rainbow home an even longer, though still in front of Valdez, right-wing triple than either of Thompson’s as time expired – giving him five threes and a team-high 21 points in the game. McCaw finished with three triples and 13 points, and Thompson totaled ten points, but IHS’ chance for a 12th consecutive district-tourney title was dashed, 62-60.
Tristen Swagerty led all players with his 23 points and Smith booked 16, as the Bears overcame a 13-5 three-pointer disparity by hitting 21 of 37 FT attempts while IHS went 9-of-16.
Helped by two Finn threes and another by Schurman, the Bobcats began their struggle to survive another weekend by taking a 12-9 lead on THS through the first eight minutes of a rare Sunday start.
“I knew today I’d come out strong, be the spark of our team … and that really worked,” said Finn. “I had to come out in the first half hot; most of these games I’ve been starting off cold in the first half and then getting hot in the second.”
But beginning with a trey by reserve Weston Smith, the Miners went on a 10-0 run beginning the second quarter before Schurman, who totaled eight points against Dolores, knocked down a pair of free throws and then fed sophomore forward Dylan Labarthe to re-tie the score at 19-19 late.
Telluride, however, would again up the ante, taking a 23-19 halftime lead and forcing IHS to again rally and re-tie at 27-27 via a Gabe Tucson FT with 4:43 left in the third quarter. THS answered with a breakaway layup by standout Robert Cooney (17 points), but saw a growing advantage cut down to 36-33 by Bobcat junior Ocean Hunter’s buzzer-beater inside.
Back-to-back layups by Miner Carlo Pine (10 points) helped THS again expand the lead back to 42-35 with 6:06 left in the third-place clash, but after a later Finn three and two Thompson FTs, the Miners found themselves ahead by just one, 44-43, with 3:13 to go.
The game’s pace then slowed drastically, and Telluride held a 46-43 lead entering the final minute. Again, Ignacio looked ready to potentially pull off a stunner, as Thompson buried a tying trey – from the exact same spot as he’d done the previous day—with 0:39 remaining.
“Once I got the ball and no one stepped on me, I was all, ‘I’m gonna make it,’” said Thompson, who totaled 14 points while Finn racked up a game-best 18. “And I just shot it…made it!”
Knowing the Miners would try to hold for one last shot and leave the ’Cats little to no time to respond, Ignacio sent Cooney to the foul line with 0:28 left. But Cooney, sensing the rare opportunity to defeat IHS in the postseason, successfully shot both tries.
The Bobcats were unable to answer at the other end and fouled THS’ Kaden Katz with 0:04 remaining. The front end of the 1-and-1 would force Ignacio to attempt a desperation three-pointer; the back end would effectively seal the deal …
Katz sank both, giving him 12 points in the game and the Miners (13-9 overall) a 50-46 win clinching a regional-round berth along with eventual D-3 champs Mancos (15-6) and Dolores (11-10) – which lost the grand finale 47-36 to the Blue Jays.
Schurman finished with five points in the loss, while Labarthe and Hunter each scored four.
“We’re a different team, you know?” said Valdez, reflecting on a 10-10 campaign against last season’s 20-6 crew. “Got a little more post game this year … got five guards now that can play at this level. It’s just going to be … if we can be something together.”
“I don’t like to rebuild; I like to reload and go out there and compete,” he continued. “There was definitely good things. Like with Triston, his first time ever on varsity – last year he didn’t even play! He’s a sophomore, Brady’s also a sophomore … Ocean … he’s a heck of a rebounder, can lead us in scoring. So if we have that duo of Bryce and him inside, plus Triston and Brady.”
“We’ll be back,” Labarthe said afterwards, while walking within the still-buzzing building. “We’re all mostly sophomores, with just a couple juniors and one senior [Randy Doyebi], so … Yeah, we’ll be back.”
“Right now, there’s times I see a ray of hope there but sometimes I’m like, ‘What are you guys doing?’” quipped Valdez, acknowledging the program’s unusual abundance of youth. “So it takes a little while longer to figure this stuff out. But I believe in who they are, and what they can do.”
Let the offseason begin.