Ignacio’s Jawadin Corona (11) leaps ahead of non-league Sanford’s Ethan Larsen for a breakaway layup during the Bobcats’ Jan. 30 season-opener away. Ranked No. 8 in the preseason CHSAANow.com poll going in, IHS fell 53-48 to then-No. 5 SHS – their would-have-been opponent in the COVID-terminated 2020 Class 2A State Championships’ consolation semifinals.
Ignacio’s Joe Garcia (23) stretches past Montezuma-Cortez’s Isaak Lewis (30) for a close-range shot attempt during Day 1 (Feb. 5) action at the Durango-hosted 2021 Four Corners Southwest Classic. The Bobcats would beat the Panthers 48-32.
Ignacio’s Gabe Tucson (3) shoots over Bayfield’s Zack McSweeney (14) and Landon Kennedy (32) on Day 2 (Feb. 6) of the Durango-hosted 2021 Four Corners Southwest Classic. Tucson totaled a game-high 17 points, but the injury-hit ’Cats fell 50-37.
Photo Credit: Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Photo Credit: Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
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IHS boys see-saw through Classic

Bookending an optimistic back-to-back sequence of fourth-quarter three-pointers, Ignacio junior guard Gabe Tucson’s most clutch connection Saturday afternoon, Feb. 6, may have actually come with 0:10 left in the first frame.

Receiving a pass out on the right wing, Tucson couldn’t help but hear a pained utterance to his left while pondering whether to shoot or maneuver nearer the hoop, in order to cut into opposing Bayfield’s 7-2 lead. Glancing peripherally and spying senior forward Bryce Finn down and holding his left knee, Tucson let fly from behind the arc.

Upon its dramatic swish, the officials swiftly stopped play to allow IHS’ coaches and trainer to render aid, and ultimately assist IHS’ unquestioned leader out of a near-empty Durango DemonDome silenced even further by the incident – its possible season-length ramifications virtually palpable.

In the immediate short term against the Wolverines, the hit was too much for the Bobcats – collectively limping already, with senior guard Brady McCaw off his game due to an injured right ankle – to withstand in what ended up being a 50-37 loss, leaving Ignacio with a 1-1 event record at the DHS-hosted 2021 Four Corners Southwest Classic.

Tucson’s second make from deep brought the ’Cats back to 13-10 right about the second quarter’s midway mark, and senior center/forward Dylan Labarthe then sliced BHS’ lead down to 13-12 with two free throws and 3:15 left until a most welcome halftime. Consecutive triples by Isaac Ross and Landon Kennedy, however, would soon rebuild the pad to 20-12, and Bayfield – energized by a 56-48 win the previous night over Durango – would enter intermission up 22-16 despite Tucson’s last-second putback of a Labarthe miss.

Having handled 3A Montezuma-Cortez 48-32 earlier on Day 1 with Finn registering 21 points and transition-layup monster Labarthe 14, IHS’ work was most definitely cut out for them with two stanzas remaining. Taking their own group task to heart, the Wolverines quickly resumed their job with senior Crosby Edwards nailing a three, Kennedy driving hard to the hole for two, and senior Hunter Bayles barging inside for a bucket.

McCaw, who’d scored a team-high 16 in a season-opening 53-48 setback Sat., Jan. 30, at non-league 2A Sanford (but was held out against M-CHS as a precaution), would then pick up his fourth personal foul with 4:38 left in the third quarter, and Bayles (11 points) netted both charity tosses for a 31-16 advantage. Not surrendering the ship, Tucson finally canned his third trey of the game with 3:49 left, but BHS again separated to go into the fourth leading comfortably, 37-20.

Sandwiching a three by sophomore guard Eppie Quintana, Tucson’s aforementioned two rally-inspiring makes gave him an impressive five threes in the contest, six for the Classic and seven in Ignacio’s first three outings of the shortened 2020-21 campaign. Most importantly, the Wolverines’ lead had been trimmed down to 41-29 with 6:36 to go.

Labarthe then knocked down two more FTs to bring the Bobcats (1-2, 0-0 2A/1A San Juan Basin) back to within ten before Bayfield senior Kacey Chandler converted a critical three-point play. IHS senior guard Jawadin Corona countered with a free throw and senior guard Joe Garcia would bury a three down the stretch, but the Wolverines (2-2, 0-1 3A Intermountain) got insurance baskets in reply from Chandler (8 points), Kennedy (13) and senior Cade Carlson (6) to clinch the Classic’s crown.

Tucson finished with a valiant game-best 17 points and Labarthe managed eight as, oddly, all eight ’Cats receiving playing time managed to book at least a point. Garcia and Quintana each ended up with three points, while Finn and McCaw each recorded two and Corona and sophomore Dylan McCaw one.

Against Montezuma-Cortez, Tucson scored six points, Garcia logged four, Quintana two and the younger McCaw one as Ignacio permitted just one Panther, junior guard J.T. Carver, into double figures. He drained three threes and finished with 12 points, while sophomore guard Austin Wood struck twice from deep and totaled nine points.

Down a notch to No. 11 in the Feb. 8 CHSAANow.com 2A rankings, Ignacio will next resume SJBL play traveling to Ouray on Fri., Feb. 12, and then invading Ridgway at 1 p.m. the next afternoon. The first showdown with Mancos is set for 7 p.m. on the 16th at MHS, before the ’Cats will, um, pause to host non-league 2A Sargent on the 19th.

Results from IHS’ 2/9 home league game versus Dolores were unavailable at press time.


Getting scoring from ten different players, Durango (2-2, 0-0 4A/5A Southwestern) had little problem easing away from M-CHS (1-3, 0-0 IML) in the Classic’s closing clash, 71-54.

Junior guard Anthony Flint’s 20 points paced the Demons, while senior forward Haezen Mestas racked up ten. Junior center Walter Stauffer and senior guard Ty Martinez each finished with seven. Carver gamely piled up a Panther-best 19 points in defeat, senior guard Josh Chupp totaled 11, and Wood again approached double digits with his eight.

CHSAANOW.com Class 2A Boys’ Basketball Rankings

(As of Feb. 8, 2021)

  1. Limon
  2. Wray
  3. Mancos
  4. Fowler
  5. Denver Christian
  6. Yuma
  7. Sanford
  8. Holly
  9. Sedgwick County
  10. Meeker
  12. Peyton
  13. Crested Butte
  14. Wiggins
  15. Kremmling West Grand
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