Bobcats split two at the Cortez ‘Rumble’

Ignacio’s Johnny Valdez (13) attempts a tough shot while angling between Basalt’s Justin Henderson and Miles Levy (2) on Day 2 of Montezuma-Cortez’s “Rumble in ‘The Jungle.’”
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

 

Covering the hometown squad’s “Rumble in ‘The Jungle’” tournament, sportswriter Jardyn Angell of The Journal quipped that fans braving the icy roads leading to Montezuma-Cortez High School to witness the two-day event’s Dec. 17 finale should be ready to see Michael Glen “ball out.”

During his Basalt H.S. career, now in its senior season, he’d certainly done so and spectators unfamiliar with Roaring Fork Valley-area hoops – which meant most of those attending – saw tangible evidence of that when M-CHS Activities Director Stacey Hall paused play early in the first quarter to present him the game ball after he reached the 1,000-point milestone with two close-range baskets.

He’d add another 16 points to finish with a game-best 20, but in powering the Longhorns to the tournament title, it was his buckets’ timing against No. 10-ranked (CHSAANow.com Class 2A poll, Dec. 12) Ignacio, which truly earned the 6’7” center his All-Rumble selection.

“The other guys weren’t really beating us until we got in foul trouble toward the end,” IHS head coach Chris Valdez said, following a 58-47 loss. “Early in the game I thought we let the big guy hurt us. The coaches had a good idea … hold him off a little bit in the first half, then bring the box-and-one in the second half with the [full-court] pressure and add them both. And that worked; we got it all the way back to four points.”

“We had the right idea when they were tired; they missed some easy shots, they had some turnovers,” he noted. “But you know, I’m not sure if we made a mistake by not doing it in the first half.”

Quickly building upon a 68-46 rout of the hosting Panthers on Day 1, Glen’s first two hoops helped BHS (6-1, 0-0 3A Western Slope) race out to a 12-2 lead after senior Pedro Rivera sank a free throw with 3:13 left in the opening frame. Bobcat junior guard Kruz Pardo responded with his team’s first three-pointer – and eleventh of the weekend, after ten went down against 2A Moab (Utah) Grand County – but Glen made an interrupting freebie.

However, Pardo and fellow guard Joaquin King continued heating up with back-to-back treys, forcing Basalt boss Danny Martinez into a late timeout before the quarter ended with the ’Horns up 13-11.

Having missed the previous evening’s 60-53 win over the Red Devils due to illness, junior guard Cole McCaw came off the bench to hit one FT in three tries with 6:56 left in the second quarter, pulling Ignacio (3-1, 2-0 2A/1A San Juan Basin) back to 13-12, but a Glen FT began an 8-0 run – which he capped with a three at one end and a vicious rejection of IHS freshman forward Ocean Hunter at the other.

The burst proved most vital; reserve forward Marcus Chapman’s sudden nine-point production – he’d total 12 and a share of the team high – was keeping the Cats alive, and the junior’s two FT’s with 0:21 left helped Ignacio go into halftime trailing by just 11 points, 35-24, instead of by many more.

“Marcus stepped up really big for us today,” stated King. “I was very surprised, and I was very proud of him! Having all those points coming off the bench really sparked us.”

“You know, every time we play I think we see something good out of a new player, a different player,” Valdez said. “Today it was Marcus’s time to shine, and Kruz did real well with ten points. And you know, we’ve got our consistent guys like Kai and Johnny who are always … contributing, and Joaquin of course.”

But with junior Kai Roubideaux slowed by Glen and Basalt’s posts, and junior Johnny Valdez limited to just two points (he’d burned GCHS for a game-high 17, with Roubideaux contributing 11) by the Longhorns’ backcourt, another regular had to rise in support of Pardo.

And as BHS feared, it was King.

Having buried an impressive five treys while booking 16 points against Grand County – which then improved to 4-2 by bouncing Montezuma-Cortez (2-4, 0-0 3A Intermountain) 71-57 in the third-place game – the senior knocked down his seventh of the Rumble starting the third quarter. He drilled an eighth to help Ignacio close to 44-37 after 24 regulation minutes, and a ninth in the fourth as the ’Cats crept back to 49-45 before the ’Horns decisively separated via eight of 6’3” senior Wade Soho’s 11 points.

“There’s some moments … those days where no matter how far behind that three (arc), the basket just looks bigger to me!” grinned King, IHS’ All-Rumble choice. “Everybody has an individual role on the team … a particular role. My role is to … find open spots, set my feet and get the shot off.”

Still fighting an undersized, but physical blend of Roubideaux, Chapman, King and sometimes sophomore guard Clay Seibel, Glen went scoreless in the fourth quarter as the second half was actually played to a 23-23 tie.

“Our offenses are working great when we run them, and then we try to go off-script sometimes and don’t hit what we need to do,” Valdez said. “We’ve got to take care of that. So … we’ll take away a lot from this game; we’ve got to learn from our mistakes.”

“We’re still down three players who could make an impact,” added Pardo, who scored 12 points on Day 1. “So losing this game’s not … I mean, it’s a big deal, but we’re not looking back on it and keeping our heads down.”

Roubideaux and Seibel each finished with five points against Basalt. Conversely, senior Miles Levy’s 11 gave Martinez three in double figures, with Rivera (nine) and junior Justin Henderson (seven) close in that category.

Though held scoreless, senior guardGrand Countywas still his skipper’s other All-Rumble pick – joining Glen, King, M-CHS junior guard Jasen Engel and GCHS senior G/F Kenyon Birdwell.

Regaining his form following an ACL injury which cost him most of his junior season, Birdwell managed nine points – trailing junior guard Masen Ward’s 12 – against the Bobcats, then put a potent 22 (including a King-like five triples) on the Panthers, paced in that contest by Engel’s 13.

CLEAN IT UP SOME

Though able to strike regularly from long distance, Ignacio encountered some problems operating inside – something which wasn’t all that unexpected, given a much shorter roster than their foes’. But a lack of free-throw attempts will be an addressable item for the team heading into the holiday break.

In two Rumble games, IHS was a combined 18-of-28 from the charity stripe. Grand County, meanwhile, went 22-of-32 against the Cats and Basalt 15-of-26 for an eye-opening 37-of-58 worth of resistance.

“We’re going to step up this break, you know?” said King. “Go hard at practices a hundred percent, work on what we need to do, fix our little potholes … and hopefully get better!”

 

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