Bobcats take Classic’s crown from Bayfield 

Ignacio’s Eppie Quintana (20) maneuvers around Montezuma-Cortez’s Isaak Lewis during the Bayfield-hosted 2022 Four Corners Southwest Classic. Quintana totaled 31 points in the Bobcats’ victories over M-CHS and, on Day 2 of the tournament, BHS.
Ignacio’s Gabe Tucson (3) zeroes in on a three-pointer Thurs., Jan. 6, at home versus Dove Creek. Tucson drilled four threes and totaled 30 points in a 67-49 win over the Bulldogs.
Ignacio's Gabe Cox (21) puts up a shot attempt Thurs., Jan. 6, at home versus Dove Creek. Cox scored three points, helping the Bobcats defeat the Bulldogs 67-49.
Ignacio's Gabe Tucson (3) attempts to steal the ball away from Bayfield's Max Meyers during second-day play at the BHS-hosted 2022 Four Corners Southwest Classic. Tucson would total 31 points offensively in the Bobcats' victories over Montezuma-Cortez and Bayfield.
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 downs M-CHS by 11, Wolverines by 14 

Finding fresh legs and a renewed sense of purpose during halftime Saturday afternoon, Jan. 8, Eppie Quintana strung together four unanswered baskets beginning the third quarter of the 2022 Four Corners Southwest Classic’s de facto championship contest, helping Ignacio expand a two-point halftime lead into a double-digit advantage last season’s tourney kings couldn’t erase even inside their own gym. 

“Honestly I think it was just the adrenalin; I was just so excited, having a good time out there with all my buddies, listening to Coach Chris yelling – it’s just a good time,” said Quintana, who’d polish off the 56-42 victory over tourney-hosting Bayfield with five free throws in six attempts during the last 15 seconds. “When that adrenalin kicked in, I was just ready to go.” 

“First half, I was kind of upset at Eppie; he wasn’t doing as well as he could. Then he came out and scored eight straight points in that third quarter … until I had to sit him down for foul trouble,” head coach Chris Valdez said. “He really stepped up, and I was happy because it takes the pressure off of Gabe.” 

Having booked 30 points in a 67-49 home 2A/1A San Juan Basin League win over Dove Creek on the 6th, then 18 in IHS’ 59-48 defeat of 3A Montezuma-Cortez on Day 1 of the Classic, standout Gabe Tucson was held to just three first-half points and five through three quarters by the motivated Wolverines, energized by a 52-51 upset of 4A Durango on Day 1. But down the stretch, Tucson chipped in eight fourth-quarter points to finish with 13. 

Quintana, meanwhile, happily assumed the senior’s leadership mantle. Having supported Tucson well against DCHS with his 17 points, but then held to seven by M-CHS, the junior guard erupted for 24 points against Bayfield – which went 2-0 at last season’s Durango-hosted event – including impressive 9-of-10 foul-line accuracy. 

“Gabe Tucson does so great in everything. Like, that kid … if he’s having a bad game, he makes everyone look amazing,” quipped Quintana. “He just brings everyone up to the level he’s at; it’s great to have that kind of player on our team.” 

Quintana’s point total was third highest during the Classic, bettered by only Montezuma-Cortez senior J.T. Carver’s 32 booked during an 84-74 overtime win over DHS in the preceding game, and DHS junior Luke Wesley’s 26 in the same showdown (during which five of the nine Demons seeing court time fouled out, four during OT). 

Pumping in 12 fourth-quarter points in hopes of willing the Wolverines back into the game, BHS senior guard Isaac Ross finished with a team-high 19 points in defeat. Going 7-of-19 from the foul line, junior post Caden Wood totaled 15 before fouling out on a technical foul with 0:05 remaining. 

Ignacio posts Gabe Cox and Dylan McCaw, meanwhile, turned in crucial efforts; Cox, a sophomore, came off the bench to score eight points, while McCaw, a junior starter, contributed six. Against Montezuma-Cortez, McCaw had managed eight but Cox zero before he fouled out with 3:57 left in the game. 

“Those big guys in the post helped us with tips, rebounds inside – they did the blue-collar work,” stated Valdez. “Didn’t get a lot of points for it, a lot of glory, but we don’t win without their hustle; those bigs really helped us win this.” 

Another sterling individual performance came from sophomore Phillip Quintana, who equaled Tucson’s 18 points against M-CHS on Day 1, in part by being able to match Tucson’s two second-quarter threes and one in the third. Sophomore Devante Montoya (8 points; 3 versus BHS) also knocked down a triple in the second and third quarters – giving IHS eight total threes and helping the ’Cats outscore the Panthers 31-21 during the game’s middle quarters. 

Up next, Ignacio will host 1A Ouray on Friday, Jan. 14 (JV at 4:30 p.m., varsity at 6), then travel to 2A Ridgway the next afternoon. Results from the Bobcats’ 1/11 test versus 2A Mancos (6-2 overall; Ignacio came in 5-2) were unavailable at press time. 

“We know they’re more athletic, but we’re going to do whatever we have to do to get into ’em – change the lineup maybe if we have to – and play our hardest like we have in the past,” said Valdez. 

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