Thu Jan 17th, 2019
Special to the Drum
Not unlike similar NBA celebrations probably occurring that same night, sophomore guard Triston Thompson’s emphatic fourth-quarter “Whoooo!” after a successful breakaway layup probably, truth be told, targeted the ear of the Dolores Bear he’d just burned, finally arriving to retrieve and inbound the ball.
Whether or not the shout warranted an immediate technical foul was debatable—DHS’ reaction-less player either failed to hear it or ignored it completely—but what wasn’t was that the spontaneous exuberance also emphasized the fact that Ignacio was just 1:53 away from avenging a three-point home loss [Dec. 4, 68-65] with a 13-point road win. With 2A/1A San Juan Basin League contenders Mancos observing within earshot, no less.
“They’re beatable; I think we can go in there and play right with them,” said IHS head coach Chris Valdez, looking forward to the teams’ Jan. 15 meeting inside the Mancos Performance Center. “But we’ve got to come with that attitude from the start; we can’t ‘start’ in the second half, like this.”
Valdez was actually speaking Saturday evening, Jan. 12, after the Bobcats followed up their 48-35 victory at DHS by blasting Norwood 57-25 inside IHS Gymnasium…but after each enemy managed to approach as close as five points during the third quarter, something Valdez knew could be problematic.
“Mancos only beat (NHS) by eighteen [58-44, actually], but it was a seven-point game…when they started fouling with about three minutes to go,” he noted. “So I think we’re as good as they are, but we’ve got to play as a team and everybody has got to contribute.”
And after creating enough separation from Dolores with a 10-2 run, keyed by a Thompson three-pointer, ending the third quarter, even more contributions helped Ignacio pull away from the upset-minded Mavericks.
Hanging onto a 25-20 advantage in the third after Norwood junior guard Cael Spangler scored an early basket, the ’Cats—who led 11-7 after one quarter and 25-18 through two (their respective leads on DHS were 10-5 and 19-13)—went on a 12-0 spree powered by two Brady McCaw treys and a Randy Doyebi transition layup.
“Everyone was just sleeping in the first half. No one was, like, really moving or…doing anything,” admitted Doyebi. “And then in the second half we started picking it up…doing the plays right.”
Spangler (13 points) ended the surge and the quarter with two free throws, but the Mavs still trailed 37-22 and would be denied a single field goal during the last eight minutes. Meanwhile, IHS (4-6, 3-1 SJBL) capitalized upon chance after chance, beginning with a three by sophomore post Bryce Finn.
NHS’ Jacob Gordon would foul out with 5:56 left, but even with zero points to his name his team would feel the loss even more than IHS would junior Ocean Hunter’s disqualification with 4:59 remaining. Tasked primarily with blanketing Maverick J.D. Brantingham, Hunter finished with four points, but Norwood’s all-around senior still had Finn (13) and sophomore Dylan Labarthe (8) with whom to clash.
“The kid’s a dynamic player; he can shoot, he can attack the basket, he’s physical, he’s a rebounder,” said Valdez. “We didn’t do anything special—helped in a little more than we probably would have, occasionally—but mostly (played) just straight-up, hard man-to-man on him.”
“Ocean…got in a bit of foul trouble, so then we switched to Bryce, and they both did a good job.”
Overall, the squad’s job was good enough so that the skipper was able to play his JV/varsity swingers together for at least two full minutes, and with 1:26 remaining the house exploded with applause as junior center Johnathon Whitt, unsuccessful on his first try, swished a surprise triple from well behind the arc on his second for his first—and the game’s last, as it soon turned out—varsity points.
“That’s what we want to do; we want to get our score way up so we can throw them in,” explained Doyebi, who totaled seven points in the wins, “get them the points…and time in there. It feels great.”
“The team has the talent; we just have to show it,” he added. “Keep up the pace, and keep putting our work in.”
Eight-of-14 from the foul line, Brantingham managed ten points in defeat for NHS (0-9, 0-2), while senior Levi Stropko booked two. Held to two points on the road, McCaw put up ten at home while Thompson logged 11 against Dolores—which did get 22 from senior weapon Tristen Swagerty while Finn recorded 18—and dropped nine on Norwood.
Next on Ignacio’s schedule, weather permitting, is a Jan. 18 venture to Ridgway (5-4, 3-1), with a test at Telluride the next day. Results from the aforementioned trip to MHS (5-4, 2-0) were unavailable at press time.