IHS Basketball getting underway in La Jara

Ignacio's Avaleena Nanaeto (35) dribbles along the sideline during last season's opener at non-league Sanford. Nanaeto will be one of the Lady Bobcats' leaders this season, her senior campaign.
Benched last season alongside injured, and since-graduated, Ebonee Gomez (left), now-senior Monika Lucero (center) discusses her healing right Achilles tendon with trainer Shelby Sangster prior to a game inside IHS Gymnasium. Lucero is said to be ready for a return to action this winter.
Ignacio's Laci Brunson dribbles casually during warmups prior to last season's opener at non-league Sanford. Now a seasoned junior, Brunson will be one of the Lady Bobcats' key backcourt contributors this winter.
Ignacio's Zane Olguin (2) attempts to sneak up through midcourt on transitioning Limon players during last season's Class 2A State Tournament 'Great Eight' game out in Lincoln County. Olguin will be amongst several reserves expected to vie for major minutes this winter.
Ignacio's Gabe Tucson (3) orchestrates the offense during last season's opener at non-league Sanford. The only one of last season's starters able to return this winter, Tucson will be the Bobcats' on-court leader.
Ignacio's Eppie Quintana (20) snags a rebound in traffic during last season's opener at non-league Sanford. Quintana will be amongst several reserves expected to vie for major minutes this winter.
Ignacio's Zane Olguin, right, watches teammates' free-throw shooting prior to the Bobcats' game at Limon in last season's Class 2A State Tournament's 'Great Eight.' Olguin will be amongst several reserves expected to vie for major minutes this winter.
McKayla Lee | The Southern Ute Drum
McKayla Lee | The Southern Ute Drum
McKayla Lee | The Southern Ute Drum
McKayla Lee | The Southern Ute Drum
McKayla Lee | The Southern Ute Drum
McKayla Lee | The Southern Ute Drum
McKayla Lee | The Southern Ute Drum

Boys and girls on cusp of 2A’s top-tens

Officially in the practice gym since Nov. 15, Ignacio Basketball will finally get the 2021-22 campaign underway with highly-rated boys’ and girls’ varsities taking the court. 

Ranked No. 10 in the preseason CHSAANow.com Class 2A poll released just before Thanksgiving, Chris Valdez’s gents will first tip off out in La Jara at 3A Centauri’s Dec. 2-4 Mountain Top Classic, then recharge for a week to battle non-league Crested Butte—their Round-of-24 opponent beginning last season’s State Tournament—in neutral Telluride on the 11th. 

But as the schedule presently shows, that could be all for the Bobcats until 2A/1A San Juan Basin League play begins Jan. 6 at home versus Dove Creek, with the Southwest Classic—this winter hosted by Bayfield—then following on the 7th and 8th. 

Senior point guard Gabe Tucson (11.9 points per game last season) is expected to be the sole returning starter from last winter’s potent squad which, despite a finalizing 71-39 loss at Limon—now the aforementioned rankings’ No. 1 crew—in the State Tournament’s ‘Great Eight’ phase, finished 14-3 overall, 10-0 against all league opposition and 8-0 versus the SJBL’s 2A teams. 

“We really didn’t match up size-wise with them; I was pretty much our tallest player and I’m only six-two, then Limon has guys that are six-five, six-six—that really hurt us,” graduated senior Bryce Finn (14.5 ppg) had said.  “And the way they pressed the ball was crazy; we just kind of fell apart.” 

Key reserves Eppie Quintana and Dylan McCaw are expected to top the list of all vying for starting roles. 

The Lady Bobcats, meanwhile, will hit the MTC as the preseason rankings’ second-highest ‘Others Receiving Votes’ team—behind Burlington and initial No. 10 Yuma—and, like the boys, will then clash next with CBCS inside THS’ MinerDome. 

Three days later, however, Ignacio will travel to 3A Pagosa Springs, then visit 3A Bayfield on the 17th before pausing for the Christmas/New Year’s holiday break and resuming Jan. 6 versus DCHS. 

Needing to replace the First Team All-SJBL backcourt of graduated seniors Jayden Brunson and Charlize Valdez as well as Second Team inside presence Shelcie Gosney—that trio combining for nearly 31 ppg—the Lady ’Cats completed their COVID-condensed 2020-21 logging a Round-of-24 victory over Hoehne before falling 49-40 at Rocky Ford and finishing 10-5 overall (6-2 SJBL, 5-1 2A SJBL). 

Fortunately IHS should return senior Avaleena Nanaeto (5.7 ppg) and junior Laci Brunson (8.1 ppg), plus senior Monika Lucero—lost for all but the first 7:31.2 of last season due to a damaged right Achilles tendon—as new head coach Tony Gomez takes charge of predecessor Justa Whitt’s high-speed, but limited-bench squad. 

“Get maybe one or two breaks a game for at least, maybe, 30 seconds?” Valdez joked. 

Posts Harmony Reynolds and Solymar Cosio will hopefully both return to again provide promise in the paint. 

TOURNEY SCHEDULING: Centauri Athletic Director Jesse Shawcroft’s information regarding the Mountain Top Classic shows the Lady ’Cats were to face 2A Sargent on Day 1 at 7 p.m., with the winner advancing to meet either 2A No. 4 Rye or 2A Olathe at 2:30 p.m. the next afternoon.  The IHS-SHS loser would get the RHS-OHS loser at 11:30 a.m. on Day 2. 

Ranked No. 5 in Class 3A’s preseason poll, CHS along with Rocky Ford, 4A Durango and 2A No. 8 Cedaredge round out what should be a very competitive girls’ field, with Day 3 placing games set to begin at 8:30 a.m. 

Ignacio’s boys were to square off against Sargent’s at 8:30 p.m. on Day 1, with the winner then facing the Rye-Olathe winner at 4 p.m. on Day 2.  The Bobcats-Farmers loser would get either the Thunderbolts or Pirates at 1 p.m. on Day 2.  With the same additional schools filling out the boys’ bracket as the girls’, Day 3’s placing contests will get underway at 10 a.m. 

CHSAANOW.COM CLASS 2A BOYS’ BASKETBALL PRESEASON POLL (11/22): 1.Limon, 2.Wray, 3.Yuma, 4.Peyton, T-5.Denver Christian & Sanford, 7.Mancos, 8.Wiggins, 9.Holly, 10.IGNACIO. 

CHSAANOW.COM CLASS 2A GIRLS’ BASKETBALL PRESEASON POLL (11/22): 1.Limon, 2.Holyoke, 3.Wray, 4.Rye, 5.Sanford, 6.Sedgwick County (Julesburg/Ovid Revere), 7.Fort Collins Heritage Christian, 8.Cedaredge, 9.Oak Creek Soroco, 10.Yuma.  Others Receiving Votes—Burlington, IGNACIO, Del Norte, Rocky Ford, Akron, Calhan, Meeker, Rangely, Fowler, Aurora Lotus School for Excellence, Wiggins, Center, Hoehne, Colorado Springs School, Mancos. 

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