Lady ’Cats cruising along in league play

Ignacio’s Makayla Howell (1) hoists up a hook shot during 2A/1A San Juan Basin League battle with Nucla Saturday, Feb. 1, inside SunUte Community Center.
Ignacio’s Laci Brunson swipes the ball from a downed Nucla player during 2A/1A San Juan Basin League battle Saturday, Feb. 1, inside the SunUte Community Center.
Ignacio’s Elizabeth Valdez (21) corrals a rebound with a Nucla player on her back during 2A/1A San Juan Basin League battle Saturday, Feb. 1, inside the SunUte Community Center.
Ignacio’s Jayden Brunson (3) tries maneuvering around Nucla’s Candis Staats (15) during 2A/1A San Juan Basin League battle Saturday, Feb. 1, inside the SunUte Community Center.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

IHS routs Ridgway, trounces T-ride on road

It wasn’t necessarily that the Lady Bobcats were looking ahead to their rematch with non-league Del Norte, but when their only recent competition had come from whom they see in the mirror every morning, well … . One couldn’t blame Ignacio’s cagers for wanting to visit, see and conquer their Feb. 7-8 foes as fast as possible.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be terribly hard,” said freshman guard Laci Brunson, following blowout road wins at Ridgway (53-19) and Telluride (65-16) in 2A/1A San Juan Basin League play.  “But we still wanted to give it our all, have no mercy on them.”

“Sometimes we’ll play as individuals,” admitted senior forward Larissa Gallegos.  “Just becoming a team and running our plays is what we really need to work through.”

“We missed two days of practice … so it threw a loop in our schedule and rhythm,” head coach Justa Whitt said.  “We will pull it back together … and will get ready for Del Norte.”

The Lady Tigers (or Tigresses?) were to enter IHS Gymnasium Feb. 11 having improved to 13-1 overall via blasting 3A Gunnison (61-24) and 2A Southern Peaks League rival, Center (65-33).  All told, Gilbert Sanchez’s squad came to town having won nine consecutive contests since falling 50-31 to 3A powerhouse La Jara Centauri back on Dec. 14, ending the three-day La Junta Holiday Shootout.

Results from the showdown were unfortunately unavailable at press time.

Behind Brunson’s game-best 13 points – all coming off the bench – IHS improved to 10-5 overall (9-0 against all SJBL opposition) going in at 2A THS’ expense.  Eager to not repeat the previous evening’s sluggish start, which still produced an 18-11 halftime advantage against RHS, Whitt’s warriors wowed the MinerDome crowd by racing out to a 17-2 lead after a quarter.

Lady Miner junior Morgan Watkinson managed five of her team-high nine points during the second stanza, but Ignacio’s cushion inflated to 31-8 going into the locker room as Brunson sank a late three-pointer to end the half.

Successfully replicating a 20-point third quarter which practically doomed the Lady Demons, the Lady ’Cats – still fueled by their inspiring Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women awareness salute and subsequent 62-15 devastation of visiting 1A Nucla the previous Saturday inside SunUte Community Center – went into the final eight minutes outclassing Telluride 51 to 16, and sealed the deal holding the Lady Miners scoreless during that stretch.

“We wanted to keep them to zero (points),” stated Brunson, referring to the overall objective, “but we didn’t reach that goal.  We’ve just got to keep working as a team if we want to keep going in our season.”

“I think we played pretty good overall,” Gallegos said.  “The first quarter and second quarter were kind of rougher, but the second half we definitely played better and got it together.  Played more as a team.”

“It was definitely an improvement; we played really bad last night,” she continued.  “None of our shots would fall; it was just hard.”

Against 2A Ridgway, junior guard Ebonee Gomez scored a team-best 13 points, while senior forward/center Makayla Howell booked eight.  Gallegos and sophomore Monika Lucero each netted seven, while junior Charlize Valdez and sophomore Avaleena Nanaeto each registered six.

Senior Ashley Medina paced the Lady Demons with six points, while classmates Anza Connaughton and Lily Harrington each finished with five and freshman Kaitlyn Winkelmann three.

Nanaeto (11 points) and Gallegos (ten) both joined the younger Brunson sister in double figures against THS, while Lucero was close with her nine.  Valdez contributed seven, while Howell and Gomez chipped in six apiece.

Junior Kyra Levan’s five points and sophomore Merci Craft’s two rounded out Telluride’s scoring.

After Del Norte, the Lady ’Cats will resume SJBL work hosting 1A Ouray Saturday, Feb. 15, and visiting 2A Mancos on the 18th, before welcoming 3A force Pagosa Springs on the 21st to end regular-season play.

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