Thu Feb 2nd, 2017
Robert L. Ortiz
The Southern Ute Drum
Girls score weekend SJBL sweep away
Fortunate to receive another chance on the enemy’s ensuing third-quarter approach, Ridgway’s Anza Connaughton clutched a Makayla Howell miss as though she was one of the aggressive guests.
Unfortunately, she’d just gained first-hand knowledge of just how badly Ignacio wanted a road win.
With the Lady Demons already hopelessly down by 30 on their home court, Connaughton – one of five freshmen on a roster also counting three sophomores and only two seniors – thought she’d gripped a defensive rebound, only to find IHS junior Avionne Gomez, on her knees, forcibly repossessing the ball.
Not wanting to give any official a chance at blowing their whistle and calling her for a walk, Gomez instinctively launched a near-vertical, two-handed push shot which swished through – setting a tone for not just the rest of the contest, but for the next day’s expected physical battle at Nucla.
“I didn’t want to turn around and travel, and I didn’t see one of my players; they were all behind me!” Gomez said. “So I just went for it and shot it!”
And with starter Caitlin Sanchez having already fouled out not long before, going up against a rugged front line of Howell, freshman Morgan Herrera and senior Alejandra Lujan, Gomez’s demoralizing hoop couldn’t have come at a worse time for the home team in the 2A/1A San Juan Basin League battle Friday, Jan. 27.
Senior guard Ara Norwood and freshman/possible heir apparent Geri-June Hall managed to drop 19 and ten points, respectively, but with Gomez pumping in 24 and Herrera 17, the Lady Bobcats breezed to at least a 30-point victory (the scoreboard showed 68-38, IHS’ scorebook showed 69-38, and this reporter’s figures – nearly identical to Ignacio’s ledger – had it 70-38).
“It was good for all our players,” said Gomez. “We had awesome defense, and … we got better this game.”
Freshman Larissa Gallegos supported well her side’s big guns and logged, according to this scribe’s play-by-play, 14 points including a three-pointer (entered in the team’s book as a two) which put Ignacio up 14-3 in a first quarter ending with the visitors already in the 1-and-1 free-throw bonus and ended by Gomez cleaning up her own missed shot just before the buzzer.
Gallegos’ second trey, coming late in the second quarter, was a second-chance try from right in front of RHS’ bench. Having just missed from the spot, she’d quickly get the ball back as Gomez scrapped for the offensive board and kicked it out. With none of the Lady Demons heeding head coach Nate Firkins’ urgent calls to defend her, Gallegos fired again and connected as IHS’ lead approached 20 points before intermission.
“I honestly thought nothing,” Gallegos said. “It was kind of, like, a reflex: You’re open, you shoot!”
Howell and senior Rachel Cooper each finished with five points in the win, while Ridgway’s Ashley Medina managed as many in defeat. Each crew was 11-of-24 from the charity stripe, but the Lady ’Cats knew freebies could be vital at NHS the next afternoon.
“It’s going to be a rough game,” said Gallegos. “Mentally, be prepared and don’t be nervous.”
Despite foul-line accuracy being only marginally better at 16-of-33, Ignacio managed to complete their weekend SJBL sweep with a 52-41 win over the 1A Lady Mustangs. Held scoreless in the first quarter by an alert Nucla defense, Gomez went off for a team-leading 18 points during the next three quarters.
Happy to be off concussion protocol, Howell netted a key 13 as Herrera – who fouled out, along with Gomez and Lujan (four points) – scored just eight (her first sub-10 showing this season) and Gallegos five.
Nucla (6-8 overall), which trailed 11-10 after one quarter and 27-20 after two, got 16 points from senior Taylor Sickels, 11 from sophomore Taryn Sickels and eight from senior Carlie Wytulka, but was just 14-of-31 from the stripe. Taylor Sickels and senior Karlena Skees both fouled out, as 50 total fouls were called in the game.
Standing 7-3 overall, 5-0 in league as of Monday, Jan. 30, the Lady Cats were scheduled to visit Mancos on the 31st (a rescheduled date from the 24th), Dolores on Feb. 2 and Norwood Feb. 4.
Results were unavailable by press time.