IHS girls grind down Dolores, 36-22

With teammate Makayla Howell (1) observing, Ignacio’s Avionne Gomez (25) secures a rebound against Dolores during the Lady Bobcats’ home opener, Dec. 13 inside IHS Gymnasium.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

Held to only three two-point field goals by a stifling Ignacio defense – guard Kiana Valdez had six steals in the first half alone – there was virtually no hope for visiting Dolores.

Actually, there was, but the Tuesday, Dec. 13, contest inside IHS Gymnasium was nothing like the 2A/1A San Juan Basin League rivals’ furious battles of recent seasons past – particularly when considering the Lady Bears uncharacteristically bricked their eight first-quarter free throws while the Lady Bobcats trudged out to a 6-0 lead.

Junior guard Avionne Gomez had five of those points, finished with a game-high ten, and could have done much greater damage if that was indeed the plan. But with Shane Seibel and his assistants sensing the opportunity to ingrain desired ball movement offensively into their young roster’s collective mind, it wasn’t.

A bright spot on the boards for DHS, Kortni Spurlock began the second quarter clanking two more charity chucks before Josie Majors finally sank the squad’s 11th attempt … and then airballed the 12th. Still, the deficit facing the guests was only 8-1.

Wasting little time to prove how much worse it could have been, Gomez drained a three-pointer in response and Dolores failed to make a basket until Tatum Majors converted a three-point play with only 0:32 left before halftime – when IHS led 15-6, en route to a slow-cooked 36-22 victory.

“We’re just still trying to figure out … the varsity level,” said Seibel, “and how we can be aggressive yet stay out of foul trouble. They only scored three baskets on us, and the rest were free throws, so that’s my challenge to the girls: Defensively, we’ve got to get better.”

Before fouling out for the first time ever with 5:43 left in the fourth, DHS senior Madi Archuleta calmly hit three freebies after being fouled on a try from behind the arc, giving her a 6-of-7 mark (and a team-best eight points) as the Lady Bears finished a woeful 16-of-38 from the stripe.

And despite production from eight different players, Seibel knew how big those misses were in the low-scoring, possession-intensive (for example, the Lady Cats used 53 seconds beginning the third quarter) clash.

“Our shooting … in the second half it was kind of rough; we were like eight-for-thirty or something,” he said. “The good thing about that is we’ve got things to work on, identify key things we need to get better at. Basketball’s about putting the ball in the hoop and we’ve got to get better at it.”

Freshman Makayla Howell finished with seven points for Ignacio, and fellow forward Reyna Cruz came off the bench to equal that with a strong fourth quarter. Senior Tori Archuleta totaled four points, Valdez and Alejandra Lujan each had two, and Veronica Gonzales and Larissa Gallegos each had one.

“Our ‘blue team,’” Seibel said, discussing the reserves’ contributions,” they play each other every day in practice, and they gave us some energy. I really appreciated that because our first five noticed … Reyna was getting some opportunities, so hats off to the bench! They came to play with some excitement!”

Gallegos was also an effective counter to Spurlock, grabbing nine rebounds unofficially while Gomez collected at least that many in the first half.

Josie Majors (5-10 FT) finished with seven points and Tatum Majors (2-8 FT) four for the Lady Bears, who dropped to 1-5 overall, 0-2 SJBL under new skipper Tiffany Hill. Coming off a 1-1 showing – a 39-29 win over SJBL member Nucla, and a 61-33 loss to 2A/1A Western Slope Leaguers Oak Creek Soroco – at the Dec. 9-10 Montezuma-Cortez “Rumble in ‘The Jungle,’” IHS improved to 3-1, 2-0 before the long holiday break.

IF YOU GOTTA LOSE…: Building upon an impressive 20-4 campaign, stopped just short of the State Championships by Paonia in regional-round action, SHS improved to 5-1 overall in 2016-17 with the victory over Ignacio. Results from a Dec. 16 home game versus Fairplay South Park, wrapping up the Lady Rams’ pre-holiday schedule, were unavailable at press time with the contest in jeopardy due to that weekend’s snowstorm.

Meanwhile, PHS – a postseason foe of IHS in seasons past – is off to a 6-0 start after defeating 3A’s Delta (48-28) and Cedaredge (58-35) at DHS’ Dec. 16-17 First Colorado National Bank Invitational, held in conjunction with the Jack Hawkins Alumni Games tradition in Delta County.


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