Lady ’Cats devour Dolores, Norwood in league IHS girls hold foes to 28 points combined

Ignacio’s Avaleena Nanaeto (35) drives the ball towards the hoop past Norwood’s Shailah Franklin during SJBL play inside IHS Gymnasium Saturday, Jan. 12.
Ignacio’s Fernanda Tavares (21) looks to pass away from Norwood’s Paige Franklin (20) during SJBL play inside IHS Gymnasium Saturday, Jan. 12.
Ignacio’s Avaleena Nanaeto hits the deck to battle Norwood’s Jessica Barkemeyer for possession during SJBL play inside IHS Gymnasium Saturday, Jan. 12.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

Sidelined by, but walking well Saturday afternoon, Jan. 12, on a sprained left ankle not even 48 hours healed, junior forward Larissa Gallegos had to laugh when recalling an observer’s comment that when she stood next to sophomore center Shelcie Gosney—benched by a sprained, booted right ankle—the damage looked like “a three-legged sack race gone wrong.”

In reality, a three-player rebound struggle two days before had gone very wrong, with both Lady Bobcats not only failing in mid-air to deny a Dolores player the ball, but both injured almost simultaneously upon landing.

But where most teams would have been left vulnerable by losing two starting-caliber posts, the 2A/1A San Juan Basin League’s defending champs seized the opportunity to utilize their frontcourt reserves while appearing content to wreak their worst havoc from the backcourt in not only a 67-20 drubbing of DHS away, but then a 62-8 destruction at home of Norwood.

“We wanted to get out there, do what we do normally—get the girls their confident lead—and then our goal was just to work on slowing it down and work…on our stuff that we need to work on,” said head coach Justa Whitt.

“Particularly so in this game,” she noted after the rout of NHS.  “If we continue to just run and run and run against these teams, it won’t do us any good. We’ve got to…make it our pace, run our offenses—really get some good practice in with some of the stuff we’re running—and hopefully we can improve even though playing weaker teams. There’s no other way to do it; we still have to play them.”

And the Lady ’Cats (5-4, 4-0 SJBL) said, ‘Bring it!’

Hardly playing in the fourth quarter during the first of the two romps, sophomore guard Jayden Brunson made a serious run at equaling current Johnson & Wales University freshman guard, Avionne Gomez’s state-record-tying ten three-pointers, with four of her seven treys helping Ignacio inflate a 14-7 first-quarter lead to 37-13 going into halftime.  Her seventh and last triple of the evening put the visitors up 56-18 just seconds before the third quarter expired, and she booked a game-high 23 points.

Slowed by four fouls defending Lady Bear posts Morgaine Milligin and Brenn Jeter, junior forward Makayla Howell still managed to score 11 points and sophomore guard Ebonee Gomez netted eight as ten different Lady ’Cats logged at least one.

Senior Tatum Majors paced Dolores with eight points, but also scored a wrong-way basket with 3:01 remaining in the mercy-rule-quickened contest as she took a teammate’s unguarded inbounds pass from beneath the basket and instinctively went up with the rock.  Recipient of a second-quarter technical foul for bulldozing IHS’ Fernanda Tavares well behind the play, Jeter managed just three points and Milligin two.

Welcoming Norwood to IHS Gymnasium, Ignacio started comparatively slow and led the Lady Mavericks 9-2 after the opening eight minutes.  Brunson wasted little time ensuring that would soon change, sinking a three with 7:22 left in the second, and senior Kiana Valdez cashed another with 6:23 left to put IHS up 17-2.

Gomez was then fouled on a successful take to the hoop with 6:04 remaining, but though her ‘and-one’ bonus free throw was off the mark, Brunson was there to clean up the carom. 21-2.  She would drain another long-distance attempt before halftime and again total a dozen second-quarter points as the Lady ’Cats cruised into the locker room leading 40-6.

“When I see myself open…. I don’t want to be a ball-hog, but if I know that I can make it, and in my head I’m like ‘I got this,’ then I’m like, ‘Gimme the ball!’” said Brunson, who again totaled a game-high with her 18 points.  “I’m just trying to be more confident with my shot.”

“Jayden is doing a beautiful job of stepping up, doing what she needs to do,” Whitt said. “So I’m hoping more of them will be as well.”

Gomez, who scored eight points in the second quarter, finished with 12 while sophomore Charlize Valdez and freshman Avaleena Nanaeto, both always eager to hit the floor and scrap for a loose ball, each chipped in seven.  Howell finished with six as ten players again scored at least a point.

Freshman Shailah Franklin led the Lady Mavs (1-8, 0-2) with four points while juniors, Lilli Parrino and Jessica Barkemeyer each managed two.

“As a team I think we…played pretty good for not having them with us,” Brunson said, referring to Gallegos’ and Gosney’s absences.  “I feel like we all picked up.”

“I’m very satisfied,” she continued, “because in Alamosa [a 40-22 loss, Jan. 5] we definitely did not play to our potential.  And I feel like these last two games we’ve really come together…and played like we know how.”

IHS will, weather permitting, next journey to Ridgway on Jan. 18, then travel to Telluride the next day.  Results from the ladies’ 1/15 visit to Mancos (0-9, 0-2) were unavailable at press time.

SPEAKING OF WHICH:Sinking five treys in nine tries, Avionne Gomez finished 8-of-15 from the floor and racked up a career-high 24 points in JWU’s Dec. 30 game at the Wildcat Center against University of Dallas, unfortunately won 76-72 by the Crusaders.  Through Johnson & Wales’ Jan. 12 loss to Trinity University on Jan. 12, Gomez was averaging 7.0 points per game while fellow Ignacio alumna Allisianna Baker-Marquez was at 1.7 with 1.9 rebounds (Gomez 3.2) per.

The squad is slated to travel to San Antonio, Texas, and face TU on the 18th, then visit Schreiner University the next day in Kerrville.

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