Seeking any respite during a four-games-in-four-days stretch, the Lady Bobcats got an extra two-minute, 20-second breather at the expense of Ouray.
In the process, they neutralized Lady Trojan junior gunner Jackie Saunders while locking up a second straight win after a close loss to 3A Bayfield.
“I was real curious myself, to see how they were going to respond to this challenge,” laughed head coach Shane Seibel, after hosting Ouray barely 20 hours after a long trip to – and victory in – Nucla. “Quite frankly, they’ve really showed me their determination to do the best they can. And that’s all I can do … really be proud of their effort when they provide it on a consistent basis.”
Saunders said when the schedule gets tough, you still have to be ready for every game.
“This week we have one literally today, tomorrow, the next day. … Win or lose, you have to forget about the past game and get ready for the next. Right away.”
Senior forward Roshae Weaver said Ignacio’s win was a team effort.
“I think we really just got the hang of it with … working together, and we all just brought each other up,” she said. “We did a really good job together.”
Having successfully lulled the Lady Trojans to sleep at the end of the third quarter – Seibel wanted to spread his offense out to the floor’s four corners, Ouray’s Shawn Carroll wanted his team to remain in a tight 2-3 zone – by often standing motionless, Ignacio blew the San Juan Basin League game open in the fourth with three consecutive Chrystianne Valdez layups, making the score 40-25 en route to a 46-34 end.
Nucla had fallen by a similar 48-37 margin, and the individual key in both was Gabriela Garcia.
Having scored seven crucial fourth-quarter points (of her 16 total) against the ready-to-rumble Lady Mustangs – after teammate Cloe Seibel (12 points) was lost to a vicious ankle injury following her own eight-point third – Garcia picked up where she’d left off and netted 18 back inside IHS Gymnasium.
Both were game-highs, the former being three up on Nucla senior Shalyn Steffan, the latter four up on Saunders – who was held without a basket until the final frame, but did manage to help keep Ouray close with 7-of-8 free throw shooting (she finished 10 of 14) during the first half.
“Gabs did a really good job,” said Weaver, who scored five points. “She’s our best defender and she just did what she did! That’s what she does best.”
Seibel said Garcia played how a senior captain is supposed to play.
“When her compadre went out – her other senior captain – she stepped up and had to run guard, post play, and really challenge herself to stop her opponent. And she did really well,” she said.
Ouray actually led 7-4 after the first quarter, following a pair of Kayla Fairchild free throws post-buzzer, resulting from an Alejandra Lujan foul. But despite junior Malori Trujillo’s three-pointer starting the second, the Lady Cats were ready to claw back into the contest.
Senior Angela Herrera countered the make with a three-point play, taking a hack from Ouray’s Rachel Pankow, and Garcia tied the low-scoring half at 12-12 by cleaning up a previously blocked attempt in the paint. But behind quick-draw junior Miya Saunders’ six points in the period, the visitors led by as many as seven before two Garcia free throws slimmed the halftime deficit facing Ignacio to 23-18.
“I think we came out a lot better at the beginning of the game than we usually do,” Jackie Saunders said. “We usually do a pretty good job of trying to find each other and make that work.”
The Lady Cats had trailed Nucla 8-6 after one quarter before leading 18-13 at the break.
“They were about the same,” Weaver said, comparing the outings. “I think last night was a little more physical, but overall they were about the same.”
Beginning the third with a Garcia three-pointer and a Valdez baseline two, Ignacio went on a 13-2 run which the Lady Trojans could not answer. Herrera and Valdez each finished with 10 points, senior reserve Deja Herrera hit a fourth-quarter jumper, and Lujan went 1-of-6 at the foul line to earn some scorebook ink.
Miya Saunders finished with 10 points for Ouray (then 5-7 overall), and Trujillo chipped in eight.
Kenzee Irish had managed seven and Carlie Wytulka six for Nucla (then 7-7) the night before, but were offset by Angela Herrera’s six, sophomore Ellie Seibel’s five, Lujan’s four and Valdez’s three.
“Physically and mentally we’ve just got to stay strong. And we know we can do it,” said Weaver, who scored two versus the Lady Mustangs after booking six against Bayfield. “We had a rough start this week [a 55-47 loss to Bayfield], but we’re going to go out with a win [in Mancos]. We’re getting it together!”
Cloe Seibel recorded a team-best 11 points against the Lady Wolverines, who had led 19-9 after one quarter but only 35-29 at halftime and just 43-42 through the third. Ellie Seibel had 10 points, Angela Herrera nine, Garcia and Valdez four apiece, and Lujan three.
“Bayfield was a tough game, a great game for them,” Shane Seibel said. “The ball didn’t fall our way, you know, but I was real proud of the girls’ effort. … I can see the team really getting better and better, every single game. They’re … becoming a really stingy defense and making girls work for everything. So I see that as being a catalyst for us right now. It’s just a matter of keeping that focus, keeping that intensity.”
Results from the Feb. 14 date at MHS were unavailable at press time, with Ignacio (5-11, 3-2 SJBL) then slated to face Norwood away on the Feb. 21, and back at home against Telluride on the Feb. 22.
As of this writing, the Lady Mavericks stood fourth in the CHSAANow.com Class 1A rankings, as yet separated from a perfect regular-season record only by one point at No. 6 Dove Creek.