Ignacio's Gabe Cox blocks the shot of Dolores' Tyler Nowlin (10) during SJBL action Fri., Feb. 4, at DHS. Cox's multiple first-half rejections helped the Bobcats establish a tough defensive presence – crucial in a 52-41 road win.
Ignacio's Phillip Quintana attempts a second-half shot over Dolores' Tyler Nowlin during SJBL action Fri., Feb. 4, at DHS. Quintana contributed seven points in the Bobcats' 52-41 road win.
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
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Bears give ’Cats a scare on the road 

IHS boys earn tough 52-41 victory 

For quite literally ten seconds Friday night, Feb. 4, the Bears were all but walking on air. 

Wyatt Koskie had started second-half scoring with an innocuous two-pointer, but then soon followed it with a two-handed breakaway dunk after visiting Ignacio lost possession with Dolores’ senior already in position to pace the run to the rim. And with 4:44 left in the third quarter, and Koskie’s four points having hacked the Bobcats’ 31-25 halftime lead down to 31-29, sophomore guard Mark Palate cashed a go-ahead corner three-pointer in front of his team’s hyper-elated bench. 

“Yeah, he’s a great help for us, honestly. Like, he can come in whenever we’re not hitting and hit a spot-up shot,” said senior guard Tru Seekins, whose three first-half treys all but prevented IHS from racking up a double-digit lead – with Palate first emerging via a three cutting Ignacio’s advantage down to 28-25 with 0:42 left until intermission. “Definitely helps lift a little weight off our shoulders for sure.” 

“And I was glad, you know what I mean?” 

IHS senior guard Gabe Tucson, on the other hand? Not so much. Wasting virtually no time at all, Tucson coldly canned a long two after Palate’s clutch make, regaining the guests a 33-32 lead with 4:34 to go. Bobcat sophomore Phillip Quintana would soon hit one of two free throws, and Tucson then swung momentum Ignacio’s way for good by converting a missed shot into a self-alley-oop lay-in off the backboard, then nailing a pull-up 14-footer forcing Dolores head coach Joel Balderrama into burning a timeout with 2:08 left in the third. 

Content to help defend against Koskie and even bigger senior Tyler Nowlin from receiving passes into the paint, IHS junior guard Eppie Quintana responded to the pause with a late basket increasing the Bobcats’ lead to 40-32 going into the final frame. And then an enthusiastic triple shortly after it commenced. 

“I wasn’t doing my job I needed to do on offense; I had to make up for it on defense, and I think I did that alright,” he said. “They came out hot – out of half(time) – and we needed to answer back, not let them go on … some big run. I just felt like I needed to step up.” 

With Ignacio (9-4, 4-2 2A/1A San Juan Basin League, 2-2 2A SJBL) enjoying their largest lead since swelling a 12-10 first-quarter lead to 17-10 early in the second, Dolores (5-7, 3-4, 2-3) steadied enough to play the ’Cats to a 9-9 draw the rest of the way, but ultimately fell 52-41 in the 2A-level SJBLers’ first of two encounters. 

“They were down, I think, one at halftime to Mancos!” noted IHS head coach Chris Valdez. “Ended up losing by 22 [23, actually] or something just like everybody in league – Telluride … Ridgway … Ouray lost by 21 – but they’re big … and a good team.” 

“Obviously we always want to win,” said Seekins. “Getting it inside, opening things up inside as much as we can … but the second half it slowed down. We did a lot of good things tonight; we moved the ball well, but strayed away from it a little bit and I think that’s partially … what took us out of the game.” 

“Defensively we’ve really got to step our game up; our help-side wasn’t as great as it could have been,” he continued. “And turnovers; turnovers were a big part. Too bad we didn’t come out with the win, but we know what we’ve got to work on.” 

Totaling four threes, Seekins tallied 15 points – trailing only Tucson’s 19 for tops in the contest – while Koskie managed ten points and Palate six. Sophomore reserve Jonathan Purkat chipped in seven but the 6’6” Nowlin was held to three. 

Eppie Quintana booked nine points for IHS, as did freshman reserve Charlie Pargin – all during the second quarter, with a three-pointer putting Ignacio up by a half-dozen at halftime. Phillip Quintana finished with seven points, and freshman reserve Coty Webb a key four points when Tucson and the elder Quintana were fighting first-quarter struggles. 

“I was really proud of how … Charlie just came in and he was making points,” said Eppie Quintana. “Coty was doing the same thing – Coach said, ‘I need you to hit shots when you go in, not hold us down’ and they both did really well.” 

Following a Feb. 9 rematch with Dolores – results were unavailable at press time – Ignacio is slated to welcome Southern Peaks Leaguers Sanford (ranked No. 6 in the 2/7 CHSAANow.com Class 2A Boys’ poll) Friday night, Feb. 11, then host SJBL’ers Ridgway the next day for an unusual doubleheader. 

The Bobcats and Demons will get things going at 11 a.m., with JV action to follow. Girls’ JV play will then tip off, with a second IHS-RHS boys’ varsity contest (essentially the postponed 1/15 meeting at Ridgway) shutting down the show. 

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