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Ignacio’s Charlize Valdez (12) attempts to rip the ball away from Dolores’ Akira Edwards during SJBL road action, Dec. 10.
Ignacio’s Avaleena Nanaeto (35) gains speed on a drive into the lane as Kirtland, N.M., Central’s Tatelyn Manheimer (22) can only watch during the Dec. 13 clash inside IHS Gymnasium.
Ignacio’s Makayla Howell (1) angles in for a close-range shot during Day 2 play versus the Dec. 6-7 Limon Invitational’s hosting squad. The Lady Bobcats began the season defeating Colorado Springs School 42-26 on Day 1, but then fell 57-44 to the No. 1-ranked Lady Badgers.
Ignacio’s Monika Lucero (20) takes a hack from Limon’s Amy Weisensee (22) on a difficult running attempt in the lane during Day 2 play at the Dec. 6-7 LHS Invitational. The Lady Bobcats began the season defeating Colorado Springs School 42-26 on Day 1, but then fell 57-44 to the No. 1-ranked Lady Badgers.
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
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‘Physical’ education: IHS loses rumble with Kirtland


Lady ’Cats show improvement over previous meeting

Subtract only Kirtland, N.M., Central’s leading scorer’s points, Ignacio wins the teams’ Dec. 13 showdown by eight. If IHS’ top individual total then disappears, the Lady Bobcats again come up short against the Land of Enchantment’s most storied girls’ basketball program.

But not like in their 2018 trip south and west to Bronco Arena; take away both KCHS senior regular Tatelyn Manheimer’s 18 points and IHS sophomore reserve Monika Lucero’s nine … .

Ignacio falls by just a digit to last season’s NMAA Class 4A State Runners-up.

“Overall I think we did really good on defense – did a good job of holding them to 48 points,” said Ignacio head coach Justa Whitt, following a chippy and, at times, downright physical 48-38 loss inside IHS Gymnasium. “Last year we held them to 52, so we did better than last year. And we only lost by ten; last year we lost by 20 [almost 30, actually], so that’s saying something to do that against a team like this.”

“I thought the efforts from all the girls were good, you know?” Lady Bronco boss Devon Manning said. “(Tatelyn) hit some big shots for us, but we’ve got to make the simple plays – make layups, make free throws – and we’ll be just fine.”

“We missed, like, 14-15 free throws tonight and missed a lot of layups, but give Ignacio credit; they made it into a little-bit sloppy ball game,” he added.

Coming in off an expected, though somewhat lackluster 43-9 destruction of Dolores in 2A/1A San Juan Basin League action three evenings earlier, Whitt had wanted the Lady Bobcats – ranked No. 10 in the CHSAANow.com Class 2A poll going in – to show more of their half-court capabilities against Kirtland Central (No. 3 in the NMOTSC/Coaches 4A poll), rather than rely on stifling full-court pressure.

“Trying to get that a little more in tune – we’ll certainly get some looks at it on Friday,” she’d said in anticipation before departing DHS, where Ignacio held the Lady Bears to just two field goals. “It’s not always productive to always press hard against teams like (Dolores), so … that’s why I backed them off a bit. We tried to mix it up a little.”

Outscored 34-32 during the second, third and fourth quarters, the Lady ’Cats (2-2, 1-0 SJBL) fell behind 14-6 after the opening eight minutes as Manheimer opened the scoring with a three-pointer. Helped by a clutch Lucero trey and four points from junior Ebonee Gomez, IHS came alive to play KCHS (4-2 overall) to a 10-10 draw during the second stanza and went into halftime trailing 24-16.

Held in the third quarter to non-sequential threes by Gomez and junior Jayden Brunson, Ignacio ratcheted up the intensity for the closing eight minutes, winning the final frame by a 16-12 count – highlighted by five points from sophomore guard Avaleena Nanaeto and Lucero’s second triple.

“All of our shooters have been working on everybody being ready to shoot the ball,” said Whitt. “Monika just got a few extra shots looking at it today – and she hit a few! That was great; she hit them at the right times.”

Gomez finished with seven points and Nanaeto six, but seniors Makayla Howell and Larissa Gallegos were held to just five points each by a Lady Bronco post defense powered by authoritative Candace Patterson, whose seven points equaled teammates Melanie Yazzie and Monique Shim.

“We didn’t have her last year – she tore her ACL – but I knew what we had coming into this year, and she’s still … trying to adjust,” said Manning. “She’s a load … so yeah, she’s doing fine.”

“Kirtland … we know what’s coming at us; we always know,” Whitt said. “But it’s a different reality when it’s actually happening. Had too many turnovers; that definitely plagues us when we’re playing against … defense like that.”

Both sides managed to drain four three-pointers (Manheimer nailed three of the Lady Broncos’), and though neither shot well from the charity stripe – Kirtland Central finished just 10-of-22; Ignacio went 8-of-19 – Whitt was still impressed by all the improvements her crew showed against the out-of-state heavyweight.

“Overall I think we did a really good job,” she stated. “We’ll just … take this game as a learning experience, to move forward to our next hard game.”

That awaits the Lady ’Cats Saturday, Dec. 21, at Cedaredge. Receiving votes in the CHSAANow.com 3A poll but not yet in its top ten, the Lady Bruins stood 4-0 prior to hosting La Jara-based No. 6 Centauri (6-0) the evening before.

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