Bobcats survive scares from Demons, Miners

Ignacio’s Joe Garcia (10) vies for a steal as Ridgway’s Jack Dubroff (22) watches during SJBL play inside IHS Gymnasium Friday night, Jan. 24.
Ignacio’s Bird Red (23) drives past Ridgway’s Blake Rutherford (24) and into the lane during SJBL play inside IHS Gymnasium Friday night, Jan. 24.
Ignacio’s Gabe Tucson leaps for a rebound against Ridgway’s Robert Beserra (13) during SJBL play inside IHS Gymnasium Friday night, Jan. 24.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

Ignacio boys equal last season’s win count

Seeking to witness a, to borrow the baseball term, ‘complete-game’ effort from his Bobcats, head coach Chris Valdez may have come up short during the team’s Jan. 24-25 weekend homestand.

But in seeking to witness his squad not only defeat an improved Ridgway crew as well as exact revenge upon Telluride – the team which ultimately ended Ignacio’s 2018-19 season – the boss couldn’t have been more pleased, as IHS matched last winter’s win total by holding off the Demons 62-51, then rallying past the Miners 67-47.

“You know what? I’m still proud of the kids,” he stated, following the victory over RHS. “Doesn’t matter how many points you win by, as long as you win! And it’s better to have games like this right now, so that down the stretch we’ll have some experience with close games.”

“We’ve got to build a lead, keep a lead, build a lead, keep a lead, and don’t let them come back on us!” he added. “That’s going to be our focus the rest of the year and hopefully it’ll help us at the end.”

Able to storm out to a 21-4 lead on Ridgway during the opening eight minutes, Ignacio’s lead remained 17 points, 50-33, entering the fourth quarter before the Demons battled back to as close as 54-49 within the final two minutes. But after a Robert Beserra three-pointer, RHS junior Jamling Sherpa was whistled for an intentional foul – allowing Bobcat junior Brady McCaw to knock down two crucial free throws with 1:25 remaining.

Classmate Triston Thompson (17 points) then followed with two more clutch charity chucks and only 52.5 seconds left, re-increasing IHS’ advantage up to 58-49. McCaw (14 points) would foul out with 46.6 ticks to go, allowing Beserra to drain two FTs and bring the guests back to 58-51, but combined 4-of-4 foul-line accuracy by Bobcat senior Keegan Schurman and sophomore Gabe Tucson (14 points) down the stretch clinched an 11-point win.

A long-range specialist if the 2A/1A San Juan Basin League ever saw one, Sherpa sank four threes after halftime (the ’Cats totaled only five overall) and finished with a Demon-leading 13 points, while Beserra and fellow senior Kaden Forrest each booked 12. Before fouling out with 20.1 seconds left, senior Blake Rutherford also reached double figures with his ten points.

“If we play four quarters of basketball, we’ve got a different ballgame,” beamed RHS skipper Tony Erickson.

“Credit to Ignacio for what they did to take us out of those sets early; we’ve got to come ready to play no matter who we play,” he continued. “We’re one of the smaller 2A schools, so we’re constantly ‘swinging up’ against these larger schools that have a lot more students. But take nothing away from Ignacio and what they did.”

Also ‘swinging up’ or ‘punching above their weight,’ Telluride entered IHS Gymnasium the following afternoon and surprisingly managed to pick up almost where Ridgway had left off. After falling well behind early, the Demons had played the ’Cats evenly during the second and third quarters – by scores of 14-14 and 15-15, respectively – before winning the final frame 18-12; THS started on a 7-0 run and would hold a 13-12 advantage after one quarter.

Able to claim the second stanza by six points, however, Ignacio (10-1, 6-0 SJBL; 10-10 overall last winter) regained a 29-24 lead entering intermission, then expanded it to a momentum-shifting dozen points by the end of the third.

Individual point totals had yet to be finalized and reported by the Drum’s deadline Monday evening, Jan. 27, with the Miners (4-8, 2-2) set to visit RHS (5-7, 2-4 SJBL after a 65-37 loss at Mancos Saturday afternoon, 1/25) the next night.

“Our defense … we’re giving up points to their best players, and those … we should be focusing on. So from here on out we’re going to work on stopping people’s best players, stopping screen-and-rolls and things like that,” said Valdez.

“You know, it’s becoming second nature to us that we get a big lead, and then give it up. And that’s not something we want to be proud of,” he noted. “We’ve got to make some changes defensively – it has nothing to do with offense; we can score every now and then!”

After a bit of a break, the ’Cats – bumped from seventh back up to fifth in the Class 2A rankings – will welcome 4A Durango on Tuesday, Feb. 4. Class 2A rankings Boys’ Basketball Poll

1. Ault Highland, 2. Yuma, 3. Denver Christian, 4. Limon, 5. IGNACIO, 6. Mancos, 7. Fowler, 8. Sanford, 9. Sedgwick County (Ovid Revere-Julesburg), 10. Edwards Vail Christian. Others receiving votes : Holly, Fort Collins Heritage Christian, Greeley Dayspring Christian, Lafayette Dawson School.

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