Lady Cats find themselves at MTC

Ignacio’s Gibran Silva leaves Glenwood Springs’ Maddie Bolotho (1) in the proverbial rear-view mirror while dribbling ahead during Mountain Top Classic – Day 1 – action inside Centauri Middle School Gymnasium in La Jara.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

If Ignacio’s season-opener versus the defending Class 3A State Champions was a book, it was a fast read.

But an engaging one, and the Lady Bobcats had no problem showing 4A Glenwood Springs a condensed summary as they took the court for the second time in 2015-16 on Dec. 3 – Day 1 of the Mountain Top Classic, hosted by 3A Centauri out in La Jara.

“You know, we had to do some changing from the Pagosa game,” head coach Shane Seibel said, alluding to Pagosa Springs’ 58-37 win Dec. 1 inside IHS Gymnasium. “We were on our heels a little bit, so I challenged not only myself to step up as a coach but also my players, to say ‘We are a pressing team!’”

And Rhonda Moser’s young Lady Demons learned exactly how PSHS managed their road success, as once IHS senior Ellie Seibel scored the first points inside Centauri Middle School Gymnasium – after a mutual 2-minute, 33-second adjustment period – Ignacio never looked back, always forward.

As in where GSHS would try inbounding the ball after each additional basket.

“The girls responded very well, came in very focused, determined,” Seibel said of his side’s full-court defending, which adequately countered their own turnovers. “And they left no surprises; they did well.”

Sophomore Hilda Garcia followed Seibel’s hoop with a three-pointer (her first this season, after being stifled by the Lady Pirates), and senior Miriam Fernandez-Lopez backed that with a three-point play inside. Senior Chrystianne Valdez then converted a steal into a breakaway layup, and Moser took a badly needed timeout trailing 10-0 and still 3:13 left in the first quarter.

By the time senior reserve forward Vanessa Davila – one of three Lady Demons 5’10” or better – managed a basket with only 30 seconds left, Ignacio’s unchecked run had reached 14 points and the 2A Lady Cats never lost a double-digit advantage in prevailing 45-24.

With three transition layups in the fourth quarter, Seibel helped IHS (1-1, 0-0 2A/1A San Juan Basin League) extend its 33-16 lead after three and totaled a game-best 12 points after her team-high ten versus PSHS.

Fernandez-Lopez finished with a well deserved nine and sophomore Avionne Gomez scored her nine all in the second half, after Glenwood Springs (0-1, 0-0 4A Western Slope) had rallied back to 20-10 at intermission.

Junior Alejandra Lujan, who’d scrapped for seven points against Pagosa Springs, went scoreless but provided Shane Seibel an additional physical post unafraid to gum up the works inside, helping hold 6’0” sophomore Tatum Peterson to just eight points.

“I’m stressing they’ve really got to look for each other as post players. Not only calling out screens, not only looking for our guards, but for each other because they work hard down there and they’re starting to figure each other out,” said the skipper. “The more they go along the more they’re going to…really complement one another.”

Garcia improved from six points against the Lady Pirates to nine against the Lady Demons, Valdez from two to four, and senior Cortney Wilson-Baker chipped in a bucket against each.

Senior Megan Uren and sophomore Maddie Bolotho each netted six points for Glenwood Springs, while 5’10” senior Madi Hert equaled Davila’s deuce to round out the contest’s production. As a whole, GSHS went 2-of-5 from the free-throw line while IHS went 3-of-4.

Ignacio was next to face tourney-hosting CHS (1-0 overall, after routing Rye 53-22 in the following game) on Day 2 of the MTC, then finish the winter grind’s four-game first week with a Saturday morning test against RHS. Results, however, were unavailable by press time.

“I’m pleasantly surprised that they want to compete at a high level,” Seibel said. “I’m not having to ask them; they’re wanting to do it! So it’s a pleasure to … just help them be their best. I’m excited to do that!”

Looking ahead, IHS heads to non-league Center on Dec. 11, then to Dolores on the 17th starting SJBL play.

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