Two Lady ’Cats earn First Team All-League Ignacio also lands two on Second Team

Ignacio’s Makayla Howell (1) leaps against Wray’s Morgan Smith for the jump ball beginning the 2A-Region VIII Tournament championship Saturday, March 2, inside IHS Gymnasium. Howell was recently named First Team All-SJBL for her all-around efforts this season.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

Even as hot a shot as she’d shown herself during the 2018-19 season’s first month to potentially be, sophomore guard Jayden Brunson—and the rest of the Lady Bobcats—learned a valuable lesson in a Dec. 15 home loss to non-league Cedaredge: A strong outside game appreciates a complementary inside attack.

“We were doing a four-out, with one in the middle.  And every time we passed it in the defense usually collapsed, so we tried to get it back out,” Brunson explained after the 50-37 setback.  “But they had one person that was guarding me the whole time, so it was a struggle to get open.”

“I was just trying to look for Makayla as much as I could, get her the ball as much as I could.”

Brunson was of course referring to junior forward and team co-captain Makayla Howell, who battered the 3A Lady Bruins inside and out for 15 points while she netted 12—making for a combo upon which head coach Justa Whitt could often rely, even when utilizing Brunson as a bench spark later in the campaign rather than in her starting five.

Available for all 23 of the Lady Bobcats’ outings this winter, Howell averaged 8.6 points per game, was held scoreless just twice, and was most recently named First Team All-San Juan Basin League—along with Brunson (6.8 ppg, including games missed)—from amongst its Class 2A teams, along with Dolores senior Tatum Majors and junior McKenzy Howerton, plus Ridgway junior Ashley Medina.

Even with missed games factored in, IHS sophomore point guard Charlize Valdez and sophomore center Shelcie Gosney still averaged over four points per game each, and both earned Second Team distinction along with Mancos senior Ericka Peacock and DHS senior Morgaine Milligin.  MHS sophomore Tia Imel and Telluride senior Jess Pack were named Honorable Mention All-SJBL.

Helping Dove Creek advance as far as the 1A-District 1 Tournament semifinals, where the Lady Bulldogs then lost to Walden North Park and finished 16-5 overall, DCHS junior Cassie Gatlin and sophomore Grace Hatfield headed up the First Team All-League roster from the loop’s 1A side.  Joining them as First Team selections were Ouray senior Lauren Fairchild and Nucla senior Caitlyn Littlejohn.

Second Team status went to Dove Creek senior Madilyn Hankins and sophomore Kobie Beanland, OHS sophomore Haley Kunz, Nucla junior Taylor Sutherland and Norwood junior Lilli Parrino, with an Honorable Mention nod going to Norwood senior Quinn Shaw.

 

IF YA GOTTA GO, YA GOTTA GO: Ignacio’s season-ending loss against Wray in the 2A-Region VIII Tournament championship left the Lady Bobcats standing 16-7, with all defeats courtesy State-bound sides (WHS ended up 21-4, and fifth place at the CHSAA 2A State Championships).

“Makayla got in foul trouble…so that kind of hurt us a little bit—she definitely is a factor in our post play—but Shelcie stepped up and did a great job in the area. She’s a tough, hard worker,” said Whitt.

“But they came through it well,” she continued, speaking of all her players with All-Leaguers included.  “As we go along they’re going to be just fine.”

“Our defense—man-to-man full-court…instead of just a 2-3—has gotten a lot better this year,” Valdez said, “and our outside shots…have really shown.  I think we did really good.”

Limon defeated IHS by just ten points in Ignacio’s second game of the year, and despite going an unexpected 0-2 and finishing outside the CHSAA 2A State Championships’ top six, ended up 22-3 overall.

Alamosa welcomed the Lady ’Cats into the New Year winning by nearly 20, ended up placing second in the 3A Intermountain, and finished 17-7 after losing to top-seeded—and eventual State Champions—Colorado Springs St. Mary’s in the 3A State Championships’ ‘Great 8’ phase.

Del Norte drubbed Ignacio out in the San Luis Valley by 22, and ended up 24-3 after taking third at the 2A State Championships, while regular-season IML champs Pagosa Springs prevailed in the teams’ regular-season finale by 30, and went on to finish 22-4 after losing the 3A State Championships’ third-place battle by two points to Eaton.

“Tournament time…anything can happen.  People that have been winning all year tend to start losing because they’ve got too cocky,” said Whitt.  “Like, Del Norte…went undefeated for so long and then all of a sudden, they’re beat by Sanford twice [in regular-season play, and the District 1 Tournament championship]!”

“That’s what makes it exciting is that it’s really ‘anyone’s game.’”

Cedaredge actually fared ‘worst’ out of all crews fortunate to down the Lady ’Cats, with a third-place regular-season finish in the Western Slope League preceding an eventual ‘Sweet 16’ loss to Parker Lutheran—leaving CHS standing 18-6.

Kirtland, N.M., Central, meanwhile, stood an active, imposing 25-3 overall as of press time, with a NMAA Class 4A State Championships—the Lady Broncos, who drubbed Ignacio by almost 30 the day before Cedaredge visited IHS Gymnasium, were the 16-team bracket’s top seed—quarterfinals clash with Portales (16-11) facing them next on Tuesday, March 12.

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