IHS boys persevere through Demons, Miners

Ignacio’s Gabe Tucson (3) leaps towards the rim against Telluride’s Declan Jodlowski (21) during SJBL road action inside THS’ MinerDome Saturday, Feb. 8. Tucson scored four points in a 57-40 victory.
Ignacio’s Ocean Hunter (32) contests the shot of Telluride’s Kaden Katz during SJBL road action inside THS’ MinerDome Saturday, Feb. 8. The Bobcats defeated the Miners 57-40, helped offensively by nine Hunter points.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

Road wins prime ’Cats for hyped home tests

In something of a humorous coincidence, senior forward/center Ocean Hunter and junior guard Triston Thompson both explored Telluride’s MinerDome Saturday, Feb. 8, wearing Bigfoot-related gear. And we’re not speaking of the iconic monster truck, either.

Hunter’s cap showed a simple silhouette-style depiction of the mythical mountain/forest dweller, with the phrase, “I Believe” printed beneath.  Thompson’s t-shirt, meanwhile, showed a similar illustration, accompanied instead by, “Bigfoot Doesn’t Believe in You” verbiage.

Guess it was only right that the pair would find themselves either the givers or recipients of Sasquatch-sized lob passes towards the basket, a signature Ignacio play which helped the Bobcat boys overcome a slight third-quarter lull against the upset-minded Miners and eventually complete a weekend sweep of both Ridgway and THS.

“Definitely,” said junior guard Brady McCaw, asked whether IHS’ high-flying attack helped halt the Kaden Katz-led Miners’ counteroffensive.  “I knew I had to jump a little extra high – lately they’ve been throwing high lobs for me!  I knew I had to get up there!”

McCaw’s fourth-quarter elevation, collection and conversion of a Hunter alley-oop pass capped a 9-0 run beginning the final frame, and increased the guests’ advantage to 52-30 – the greatest it had been since Thompson assisted on a Bryce Finn transition three-pointer for a 37-14 lead early in the third.

And though Telluride junior super-sub Marcus Leyva managed to drain his third trey – all coming after intermission, when IHS’ decelerating lead stood 25-11 (it was 19-8 after an explosive first quarter) – and help the home side outscore Ignacio 10-5 down the home stretch, the No. 5 [CHSAANow.com Class 2A poll, 2/3] ’Cats had done more than enough to leave victorious, 57-40.

“After the rough start last night, I’m glad we came out ready to go … got the lead early,” said head coach Chris Valdez, alluding to a come-from-behind 50-46 win at RHS.  “And … we were losing 7-0 in Ignacio to (Telluride), and then they were up 20-12 on us; we never gained the lead until after halftime!”

“Our bench hurt us a little bit … late in the third,” he continued.  “It went from being a 20-point lead to a 12-point lead, so … . We’re happy with the victory, but we’re not happy with our effort all the time – which is good, because we’ve got to get better and they’ve got to understand that.”

Able to get as close as 11-6 early in the first quarter via a South Livermore three-ball, the 2A Miners saw their chances quickly begin to fade when IHS senior guard Keegan Schurman responded with consecutive triples – en route to totaling a game-high 12 points.

Blowing up for nine third-quarter points, all but offsetting the potential effects of Katz’s third-quarter eight, Finn finished with 11.  Hunter canned a demoralizing trey beginning the fourth quarter and ended up with nine points, while McCaw totaled eight and Thompson a foul-slowed five.

Katz battled for a THS-best 11 points, while Leyva was held to nine and Livermore eight.

“We’re in a shooting slump, honestly – which is good, because now’s the time to be in that slump, and hopefully we’ll come out of it around districts and regionals,” Valdez said.  “Finally, Keegan came out of his … and he scored tonight.  Brady, Brady’s a kid that should have 15, 18 a game; when we get everybody on the same page, and we’re in our transition, we’re running how we should.”

McCaw had paced the Bobcats against RHS with his 18 points, while Finn and Hunter each logged eight.  A true tank in the paint, senior post Kaden Forrest led the 2A Demons with his ten points.

“We definitely had to tell everyone that just because we had one bad game, doesn’t mean you can step on us,” McCaw said before exiting the ’Dome.  “We’ll come back, run the floor, shoot the ball … and we’ll beat you.”

“But we’ve got to get better all around,” noted Valdez, “especially defensively inside; people are going inside, and we’re getting in stupid foul trouble. We’re going to work on staying out of foul trouble, working the ball around and … being unselfish; taking those shots that are going to make us … exciting. That makes us run.”

Having improved to 12-2 overall, 8-0 against all 2A/1A San Juan Basin League opposition, Ignacio was to next host non-league 2A Del Norte Tuesday night, Feb. 11, but results were unavailable at press time.  And though the Tiger boys were to arrive stuck in a four-game slide and standing just 3-12 overall, the ’Cats knew a quality performance would bode all the better to welcome Ouray on the 15th.

IHS slipped a notch to No. 6 in the updated 2A rankings (released 2/10), while the Trojans again held down the No. 10 spot in Class 1A.

“If we just prepare ourselves a little more, have a couple hard practices, we’ll be ready to go,” said McCaw.

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