Fri Feb 26th, 2021
Special to the Drum
Tags: Brady McCaw, Bryce Finn, Chris Betz, chris valdez, Declan Jodlowski, Dylan LaBarthe, Gabe Tucson, Hayden Tealdi, Ignacio Bobcats, Ignacio High Scool, Jack Courter, Joe Garcia, joel priest, South Livermore, Zane Olguin
Wins bump Bobcats back into top-10
Impressed, yes, but even more so irked by Telluride’s diminutive backcourt players’ ability to drive the basketball into the paint, Ignacio head coach Chris Valdez said there was still much work to be done for his squad – despite a 66-34 rout of the Miners – to truly solidify itself as one of Class 2A’s elite.
“Defense,” he noted. “We’re letting people penetrate too much and things like that. And they were missing their point guard! When they have (senior Jack Courter) they’re going to be a lot better team – and we’ve got to play them up there in the last game of the (regular) season.”
“We knew that they were a capable team despite what their record was,” added IHS senior forward Bryce Finn.
Following THS senior forward/center Hayden Tealdi’s game-opening basket, the Bobcats – still stoked over slamming non-league 2A Sargent 64-23 the night before – responded by rapidly building up a 17-6 pad by the first quarter’s close. Capitalizing on a size advantage over opposing juniors South Livermore and Declan Jodlowski, Ignacio senior guard Brady McCaw booked layups on consecutive cuts to the hole, and Finn then followed with a three-pointer and just 27.4 seconds left.
That gave IHS’ inside-outside duo 15 combined points in the quarter, en route to 38 when all was said and done Saturday afternoon, Feb. 20, inside IHS Gymnasium – capping a three-game, three-win week kicked off by a wild 68-50 triumph on the 16th over unbeaten No. 3 Mancos (Ignacio was No. 13 in the week-starting CHSAANow.com 2A poll).
“It’s been a really long week,” grinned Finn, who paced all players with his 23 points. “I hit a couple threes when I was open – it was nice to hit a three; I hadn’t really hit one in a couple of games. We were just trying to play team ball, get the best open shots we could.”
“And we’d go to the mismatches because … that kid who was on Brady is like a foot smaller than him, and then for some reason Telluride had (Tealdi) on Gabe (Tucson) instead of me,” he continued. “They had their 34 (senior Chris Betz) on me, and he wasn’t strong enough to guard me in the post. We were just looking to take advantage.”
A McCaw breakaway layup, resulting from a steal at the other end by senior Joe Garcia, would max out Ignacio’s first-half advantage at 29-14 with 2:46 left before intermission, but the visitors weren’t about to wilt. Getting five Livermore points via a three-pointer and sneaky two-point slash through the lane, plus a Tealdi two, the Miners rallied back to 29-21 at halftime.
“We weren’t surprised they were making that run on us,” Finn said. “We just had to keep our composure; we knew that we were a better team … . An eight-point lead at halftime isn’t where we wanted to be … then we lost it a little bit – making sure we hold onto leads is important.”
Beginning the third quarter with another bucket, Tealdi extended Telluride’s run to 9-0 before McCaw (15 points) netted Ignacio’s first second-half deuce. Not long after, following a Livermore free throw, Garcia (4 points) cashed a statement-making corner three which rebuilt the Bobcats’ lead to 11, 35-24.
Finn promptly cleaned up a missed shot the next trip down, and McCaw then flew to the cup for another indefensible layup and a swelling 39-24 lead. Senior center/forward Dylan Labarthe then scored inside with 3:54 left, and went to the foul line for a bonus FT. He’d miss the attempt, but Tucson alertly put the rebound up and in – essentially making for a 4-point play.
A quick Finn spin to the rim then gave the ’Cats 13 unanswered points, and his subsequent, successful 2-and-1 with 2:33 remaining extended the Bobcats’ burst to 16-0, and stretched the score to 48-24 before Livermore (14 points) somehow slipped past all sentries to again strike from close range.
“We had our fastest guy – Brady – on him and he still sneaks in there … usually off of a switch,” said Valdez, “and that was the problem. And when he’d get in there he has the ball fakes, the up-and-unders … . So we’ve got a lot to work on.”
Ultimately leading 50-26 after the game-changing third quarter, Ignacio (7-2, 5-0 2A/1A San Juan Basin) more or less cruised to victory, helped by six of Labarthe’s 12 total points. Finn’s night ended after a three, giving IHS a 61-33 lead with 2:29 left, and JV call-up Zane Olguin concluded the contest with a two-point take just before the buzzer.
Slowed by four fouls, Tealdi still totaled nine points and THS (0-7, 0-6) also got six points from Betz.
Reported counts from the victory over SHS showed Labarthe leading the ’Cats, who stormed out to a 19-2 lead during the initial eight minutes, with 12 points. Finn and Garcia each logged 11, and McCaw also reached double digits with his ten.
Up next, Ignacio will welcome Ridgway on Saturday, Feb. 27, for a 1 p.m. tip, and then host Mancos Tuesday night, March 2, for what will be a heated rematch. Regular-season play is then slated to end Thursday, March 4, at Dove Creek.
Results from the Bobcats’ 2/23 trip to Dolores, were unavailable at press time.
“A 40-point win and then a 30-point win … . We’re going to try to keep our momentum going in Dolores, give them our best shot,” stated Finn. “We’ve got to go in there playing our game … and then get Ridgway at home; we want to have a better game against them too.”
Ignacio had downed DHS 50-39 back on Feb. 9, but then narrowly dodged the Demons on the 13th, 57-52.
CHSAANOW.COM CLASS 2A BOYS’ BASKETBALL POLL (2/22)