Fri Mar 18th, 2016
Special to the Drum
Tags: Adams State University, Alejandra Lujan, Avionne Gomez, Ballet of Ignacio, chrystianne valdez, Cortney Wilson-Baker, CSU-Pueblo, Custer County, ellie seibel, Ignacio, lady bobcats, Lady Cats, Plachy Hall, San Luis Valley, Wet Mountain Valley
Custer County stuns Lady Cats by one
Turnovers and numerous missed opportunities certainly crippled the Lady Bobcats enough, but when it came down to the final seconds on Friday, March 4, Ignacio still had a chance to claim victory.
Unfortunately, relatively unknown upstart Custer County had the final possession.
Given the name of the Greek goddess of war, CCHS junior Athena Wisecup would have been an appropriate choice to beat the ending buzzer, but the ball went instead to McKensie Penkoff and the sophomore managed to lift the ladies from Westcliffe into a position – once virtually reserved for the squad they were facing – of contending for one of two berths into the CHSAA Class 2A State Championships with a mid-range jumper that left Adams State University’s Plachy Hall stunned.
Except, of course, for the players, coaches and supporters of the Wet Mountain Valley visitors to the San Luis Valley, elated at their own ironically-dubbed Lady Bobcats having just pulled off a rare 8-seed-over-1 upset in the semifinals of one of two four-team pods at the 2A-Region I Tournament in Alamosa.
And Custer County wasn’t finished; by defeating No. 4 Sargent 41-29 the following afternoon, CCHS – having improved at the time to 10-12 overall – secured a spot in the double-elimination “Great Eight” at CSU-Pueblo along with No. 3 Sanford (then 16-8), who first ousted No. 6 Mancos 56-34 and then edged No. 2 Del Norte 41-34.
IHS finished 17-5 overall for a second straight season, despite getting ten points from sophomore Avionne Gomez before she fouled out in the fourth quarter, and nine from senior Ellie Seibel. Sophomore Hilda Garcia scored seven and senior Cortney Wilson-Baker five, but senior Chrystianne Valdez was held to three, junior Alejandra Lujan (who also fouled out) to two and senior Miriam Fernandez-Lopez to none.
Having won the second half by a 24-15 margin, Custer County got 12 points from Penkoff and 11 from senior Taylor Staton. Junior Serenity Ham contributed nine, junior Tisha Schlabach and sophomore Elizabeth Mullett each booked two and senior Nicole Lorenzen (another five-foul casualty) one.
CCHS was 14-of-24 at the free-throw line, with Penkoff hitting all four of her tries and Ham nine of an alarming 14, while Ignacio – which lost a 21-13 halftime advantage – went 9-of-15, led by Seibel’s 5-of-6.
Custer County then drew Lower Platte League powerhouse Yuma for their first opponent inside Massari Arena while SHS challenged Western Slope Leaguers Paonia.
But after being respectively routed – 86-25 and 52-25 – on March 10 by the squads destined to meet for all the marbles, both were eliminated on Day 2. CCHS crumbled against Kiowa, 46-25, and Sanford stumbled 36-25 against Swink – meaning that if the Championships actually had a seventh-place game, the two Region I survivors would have then squared off.
KHS went on to finish 21-5 overall after hanging on to defeat the Lady Lions (22-5) 54-51 in the fifth-place clash. The fight for third was even closer with Cedaredge (24-3) nipping Wray (19-7) 56-54, and YHS (26-1) downed PHS (24-3) for first, 55 to 46, to finish the winter having lost only their season-opener to Sterling – which ultimately took third (finishing 25-2) in the Class 3A State Championships held at the Denver Coliseum.