Jays, Miners no match for Bobcats

Ignacio’s Kruz Pardo attempts a tough shot over Telluride’s Jackson Tharpe (21) during SJBL road action on Saturday, Jan. 16.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum


Able to shake off a sluggish second quarter inside a strangely-silent MinerDome, the Bobcat boys used six Tucker Ward third-quarter points to set Telluride up, then three Wyatt Hayes three-pointers in the fourth to knock the Miners down – and for all practical purposes, out in the 2A/1A San Juan Basin League clash on Saturday, Jan. 16.

Picking up where they left off the night before in the Mancos Performance Center, Ignacio improved to 8-0 overall, 3-0 in the SJBL by coasting to a 69-41 win and building momentum for their much-anticipated engagement with Durango (6-3, 0-0 4A/5A Southwestern) on the 19th inside Fort Lewis College’s Whalen Gymnasium.

“We’re not looking ‘forward’ any more – it’s in front of us!” said head coach Chris Valdez. “We’ve got to go out and work hard; they’re a great team, probably the best we’ve played in many years, you know? They’re better than the Sanfords of the world, and we’ve got to play at a high level if we want to beat them.”

“We’re going to work on suffocating defense,” Ward said. “That’s going to keep us in the game.”

Unfortunately results from the neutral-site spectacle were unavailable by the Drum’s deadline.

“Whatever happens, happens, but we’re going to work our butt off and try to at least put on a show!” Valdez said. “If we get our butt kicked, it’s still motivation for us to turn it around. If we win, we know we’re in the right direction and we can still move forward.”

Getting early baskets from juniors Andrew Denny and Miles Galbo, THS looked to lengthen strides made the night before in a 60-47 non-league win at 1A Crested Butte but soon fell behind the ’Cats for good after a Ward trey put IHS ahead 9-2, and an Anthony Manzanares triple increased the visitors’ lead to 15-4 after eight minutes.

Five of Valdez’s players managed to score during the slowed-down second, and a late Galbo three-point play provided Telluride one last spark of hope as the scoreboard read IHS 26, THS 12 at halftime. And to Ignacio, 78-42 victors over the Blue Jays, knew that was close enough.

“We’ve had some trouble starting games. Usually after halftime we pick it up and extend the lead, which we did again tonight, but we’ve got to be able to come out with that intensity at the beginning,” said Valdez. “And that’s something we’re challenging ourselves to do, you know?”

Denny, who’d energized the home crowd with a stout block of Austin McCaw during the first half, managed two more buckets but only reserve forward Jordan Williams cashed at least one as Ward’s aforementioned six points and five from Hayes helped fourth-ranked (CHSAANow.com Class 2A poll, 1/11) Ignacio go into the final frame comfortably ahead, 43-21.

“I feel like we were a little tired from the back-to-back … just didn’t play to our full energy level like we can every night,” Ward (13 points) said. “Just didn’t have all the energy there tonight, wasn’t the best game we’ve had.”

Hayes recorded a game-best 18 points, senior center/forward Nick Herrera netted ten and Manzanares nine for IHS. McCaw and younger brother Cole each scored four as ten different Bobcats scored at least two. Denny totaled 13 for Telluride (2-8, 1-2), Galbo finished with 12 and Williams eight.

Against Ro Paschal-less MHS, Ignacio raced out to a 21-5 lead by the first quarter’s close, and inflated a 38-24 halftime pad to 61-31 at the fourth quarter’s open. Ward paced Ignacio with 23 points, with Hayes and Herrera each scoring 14. Seniors Andrew Christensen and Adrian Hernandez each scored 12 points for Mancos (3-4, 2-1) and classmate Andrew Plunkett booked eight.

Following the battle with DHS, the ’Cats will resume SJBL work by hosting Dove Creek on Friday, Jan. 22, rumble inside IHS Gymnasium with 3A Bayfield on the 26th, and then entertain league foe Dolores on the 29th.



Originally slated for Jan. 8, but postponed due to the week’s snowstorms, Ridgway’s visit to Ignacio has been rescheduled for February 5. The junior-varsity boys’ game will get things underway at 4:00 p.m., followed by the varsity girls’ and varsity boys’ games.


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