Fri Feb 17th, 2017
14 threes fall in IHS’ 88-24 conquest
Able to soak up some knowledge from Ignacio head coach Chris Valdez during halftime of the preceding girls’ varsity contest, young Ridgway boss Jake Coulter seemed to have utilized whatever it was quite well as the Feb. 11 boys’ feature inside SunUte Community Center began taking shape.
Opening the game with a 5-0 burst, including an unexpected initial three-pointer by freshman reserve Andrew Winkelmann – given a start with backcourt regulars Jimmy Saville and Colin Kraft unavailable – the Demons also managed to hold a later 9-7 lead before IHS ended the frame with junior Kai Roubideaux’s lay-in of an inbounds pass, and sophomore Lawrence Valdez’s breakaway layup with 0:10 left.
That was enough drama for the Bobcats.
“We kind of had a little letdown from last night’s big game; it took us a while to get our feet under us,” admitted Chris Valdez, alluding to the previous night’s 58-42 defeat of Telluride inside IHS Gymnasium (used for the next afternoon’s 2017 “Guns ’N’ Hoses” Basketball Challenge fundraiser, benefiting the Boys & Girls Club of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, thus relocating RHS-at-IHS).
“We just started off flat the first half,” agreed junior Cole McCaw, “and we needed to make a statement.”
Valdez took a Roubideaux pass and promptly sank a three beginning the second quarter, and after Ridgway soph Jon Bustos scored inside, Ignacio responded with a 10-0 run finished by triples from Valdez and McCaw.
Winkelmann (8 points) then knocked down another unexpected trey, but the Cats closed out the first half with layups by Lawrence and junior Johnny Valdez, and freshman Ocean Hunter preserved the 32-14 advantage by rejecting Demon Ty Kraft’s three-point heave from just inside midcourt at the buzzer.
Still, the locals were far from content.
“The first half, it was kind of flat. Like, thirty points in a half is not great,” Lawrence Valdez said. “We came in the third quarter…and it got us going. Everyone was getting the ball; we were all playing together.”
Kraft and freshman Byrd Williams managed four points for RHS early in the third, before Ignacio subjected the guests to every 2A/1A San Juan Basin League squad’s worst nightmare.
“One guy hit one, then another guy hit one,” said Chris Valdez, when told his team had finished the game having made 14 three-pointers. “Everybody started stepping up, it becomes contagious, and it just flowed for us.”
“It was gangbusters, you know?”
Sinking a trey to save a broken play, Johnny Valdez put IHS up 44-18. McCaw then followed with a long-range make, 47-18. Senior Joaquin King (6 points) then buried still another, 50-18. Products of Ridgway turnovers, two Lawrence Valdez breakaways then followed, 54-18. After two Lawrence Valdez free throws went down, sophomore Clay Seibel drilled his second triple of the quarter, boosting the lead to 59-18.
Lawrence Valdez then sped away for another easy layup, Roubideaux followed with a mid-range jumper, and McCaw converted a breakaway shortly before the buzzer – finishing off a 33-point quarter, and putting the ’Cats (12-4, 10-0 SJBL) up 65-18 with eight regulation minutes still remaining.
And no real relief in sight for the shell-shocked Demons.
“We just needed to kick up the gear a little bit in the second half,” said McCaw, who kept the pain train rolling into the final frame with another three. “We tried to play some ‘team’ ball today, not be selfish at all.”
To that effect, five different Cats would sink a long ball down the home stretch, and RHS (2-15, 2-9) could not manage a point until a Bustos bucket made the score 81-20. Still not satisfied, Ignacio junior reserve Daniel Weaver (5 points) countered with a layup and Seibel drained what would be the blowout’s last three.
Bustos (8 points) then worked inside for his final hoop and Demon reserve Kaden Forrest made two free throws, but IHS would polish off a resounding 88-24 win with reserve Jonas Nanaeto catching a long Hunter pass and dropping in the penultimate two points.
“Our Telluride game, it was a ‘statement’ game; we needed to make that,” said Lawrence Valdez, whose 18 points led all players. “And if we didn’t come out and play hard [versus Ridgway] then it was going to look bad on our RPI system; we just had to play hard.”
McCaw finished with 17 points, Johnny Valdez and Roubideaux each logged 12, and Seibel finished with nine by matching McCaw’s team-high three treys. King, Johnny Valdez and Lawrence Valdez each hit two from deep, and Weaver and freshman reserve Keegan Schurman each canned one.
“We’ve got two more league games – the Mancos game, Ouray game away – and if we win those, of course we win the league outright,” Chris Valdez said. “We’re looking for our tenth district championship in a row; if that can happen, knock on wood, we’re going to try to do that!”
“But those are all things that are in the back of my mind, as a program.”
“Individually our kids are playing better – we’re playing without our point guard [junior Kruz Pardo] right now and without Calvin [sophomore Levato], a couple very explosive players – and I’m proud of their efforts. We got those younger guys in, got them the ball to score, so the team is starting to come together as a team. That’s what’s most important to me right now.”
As the longtime skipper mentioned, Ignacio wraps up the regular season Saturday, Feb. 18, at Ouray. Results from the Bobcats’ 2/16 home finale versus Mancos were unavailable at press time.