Valdez counted with SJBL’s top cagers

Ignacio's Johnny Valdez (13) drives baseline against Del Norte during the Bobcats' season-ending loss up at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison. Valdez was recently named First Team All-SJBL for his junior-year efforts.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum


Despite battling through one of the more difficult – by the program’s standards – basketball seasons in recent memory, ended by one of the most resounding defeats suffered within the last decade, three Ignacio Bobcats were still saluted by the 2A/1A San Juan Basin League’s coaches when it came time to choose an All-League Team.

Tying Norwood senior center/forward Kade Brantingham for third-most points (63) in the selection process, and thus earning a First Team All-SJBL nomination was junior guard Johnny Valdez.

Emerging onto the circuit’s scene in the 2016-17 campaign by filling one of the backcourt vacancies left by graduated ’15-16 seniors Wyatt Hayes, Anthony Manzanares and Tucker Ward, Valdez averaged over 13 points per game as IHS finished 15-7 after a loss to Del Norte in the 2A West Regional, Pod G championship in Gunnison.

He also averaged over five steals, three assists and two rebounds per outing, based on reported statistics.

Tops in the voting, receiving 72 points and thus not only First Team status but also Player-of-the-Year, was Telluride senior Andrew Denny, who helped the Miners finish 13-9 and also come within one win of reaching the 2A State Championships’ deciding ‘Great Eight’ phase.

Not surprisingly, THS’ Stefan Reiter and IHS’ Chris Valdez shared Coach-of-the-Year distinction.

Rounding out the First Team honorees were Ouray senior guard Ravi Inmon (69 voting points), Dolores sophomore forward Tristen Swagerty (46), and Mancos freshman center/forward Caden Showalter (43).

Garnering 30 points and receiving a Second Team All-League nod for Ignacio was junior guard Cole McCaw. Joining him were THS senior forward Rye Livermore (26 points), Ridgway junior guard Jimmy Saville (19), OHS senior guard Lincoln Sackman (18) and NHS senior guard Sayre Stropko (17).

Finally, Honorable Mention All-SJBL went to IHS senior guard/forward Joaquin King (nine points), who like McCaw averaged over six points per game as one of Ignacio’s three-point specialists. DHS sophomore forward Dakota ‘D.K.’ Smith (ten voting points) and MHS junior guard Caleb Yoder (three) were the other two choices.

The All-SJBL Girls’ Basketball Team will be detailed in the next issue of the Drum.


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