Basketball Sports

Bobcat boys No. 8 in preseason hoops poll

Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

IHS tipping off at non-league power Sanford

Effectively picking up where they left off, Ignacio High School’s boys will at long last begin the oft-delayed 2020-21 basketball season against a decorated program they’d have next faced in the 2020 Class 2A State Championships, had the event not been cut short by the COVID-19 restrictions after just one day.

Checking in at No. 8 in the classification’s preseason poll released Jan. 18, the Bobcats (18-5 overall last winter) are set to travel to No. 5 Sanford for a Jan. 30 season-opener sure to catch statewide eyes considering not only the teams’ denied encounter last March, but multiple thrillers ever since IHS’ 2A arrival more than a decade ago.

Start time for the boys’/girls’ junior-varsity/varsity twinbill has been rescheduled for 2 p.m. Only two parents per player, per game will be allowed – meaning if a ’baller plays both varsity and JV, tickets for each game will be required. Tickets may be bought from IHS’ coaching staffs or athletic director Leo Garand prior to game time; tickets will not be sold at the door.

Undoubtedly anticipating the Saturday afternoon test, SHS (20-5 in ’19-20) is actually slated to pick up steam by commencing play two days earlier versus Westcliffe-based Custer County, with IHS’ 2A/1A San Juan Basin League arch-rival Mancos – starting off ranked No. 11 – on deck the following night.

Longtime head coach Rhett Larsen’s Southern Peaks League crew had been set to face Chris Valdez’s ’Cats in Day 2 consolation-bracket semifinal play inside the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland when last year’s run was suddenly halted; Sanford had fallen on Day 1 to Wray in the double-elimination spectacle’s initial ‘Great Eight’ phase, and Ignacio later that night to Ault Highland – leaving both sides targeting a best-possible fifth-place finish.

Hosted this year by 4A Durango, the 2021 Four Corners Southwest Classic will be the Bobcats’ second stop on their campaign trail. Set to be held Feb. 5-6, opponents and times are still to be determined.

SJBL competition will then get underway with Ignacio hosting Dolores (6-14 last year; lost to Ridgway in the 2A-District 3 Tournament’s play-in game) the evening of Feb. 9, before beginning a three-game road stretch at 1A Ouray on the 12th. Class 1A’s preseason No. 15, the Trojans went 14-7 and reached the 1A State Championships, but that three-day cavalcade was cut short following a Great Eight loss to Kit Carson.

IHS will then visit Ridgway the afternoon of the 13th, then Mancos on the 16th for the first rematch of last year’s 2A-Region IV championship, which the ’Cats claimed inside MHS Gymnasium – denying the Blue Jays (19-4) a trip to State.

Non-league Sargent will pay Ignacio a visit on Feb. 19, with the Farmers looking to improve on an 8-12 season which fizzled out with blowout losses at SPL front-runners Crested Butte and Sanford, then a 2A-District 1 defeat courtesy Del Norte.

Ignacio’s first pass through the SJBL’s 2A members is scheduled to conclude on the 20th inside IHS Gymnasium versus Telluride (8-14), with the second cycle to begin at Dolores on the 23rd. RHS (8-14) comes to town Feb. 27, with MHS doing likewise on March 2, before the Bobcats take somewhat of a break traveling to Dove Creek – a low-end ‘Others Receiving Votes’ team in the preseason 1A poll despite last year’s 6-14 result, and the only other 1A SJBL member the ’Cats will face due to CHSAA’s schedule restrictions – on the 4th.

Regular-season action is to conclude March 6 inside THS’ MinerDome.


One major difference in the SJBL will be that Mancos will be under new leadership; head coach Elijah Knepper, who led the Jays past Ignacio to the District 3 tourney title, unexpectedly resigned during the offseason.

Reportedly taking his place will be one Bob Archibeque, former Montezuma-Cortez skipper and father of 2003 M-CHS graduate Kirk, a 6’9” collegiate standout at both NCAA Div. I University of Northern Colorado and D-II Fort Lewis College, and an overseas pro for nearly a decade after that.


Even in a crushing loss to Highland, IHS’ reserves continued a season-long trend of outscoring foes’ backups. Including current seniors Joe Garcia and Dylan Labarthe, the Bobcat bench outscored eventual 2A Coach-of-the-Year Pete Freeman’s 15 to 12, with Garcia logging six points and Labarthe five, while current junior Gabe Tucson netted four.

(Substitutes’ efforts had been particularly crucial for Ignacio in the previous weekend’s 2A-Region IV Tournament championship game, as they outscored SJBL force Mancos’ by an 11-0 margin, helping IHS prevail by ten.)

Promoted from JV, youngsters Eppie Quintana, Teagan Taylor and Dylan McCaw also made scoreless fourth-quarter cameos against the Huskies, wetting their collective feet on the ultimate stage, and all are available to return this winter.


Since joining the 2A/1A San Juan Basin League in the 2008-09 season, the Bobcat boys’ varsity program has compiled a colossal 239-57 (.807) overall record, and hasn’t had a losing season since finishing ’05-06 standing 10-13 following a Class 3A State Tournament loss to Carbondale Roaring Fork in the opening Round-of-32.

Ignacio bounced back to form the next winter, ending up 13-10 after a ‘Sweet 16’ setback at Eaton.

Preseason Class 2A Boys’ Basketball Poll (1/18/21)

  1. Limon
  2. Yuma
  3. Fowler
  4. Wray
  5. Sanford
  6. Denver Christian
  7. Peyton
  9. Holly
  10. Sedgwick County (Julesburg-Ovid Revere)
  11. Mancos
  12. Crested Butte
  13. Meeker
  14. Holyoke
  15. Vail Mountain
To top