Ignacio's Marissa Olguin dribbles around the wing during last season's non-league action at Del Norte. Now a sophomore, Olguin should again see major varsity minutes in helping the Lady Bobcats transition from the 2A/1A San Juan Basin League to the 3A Intermountain in the 2022-23 season.
Ignacio's Harmony Reynolds lines up a shot against Telluride during San Juan Basin League action last season inside IHS Gymnasium. Now a senior, Reynolds will be a key contributor for the Lady Bobcats in the 2022-23 season as IHS returns to the Class 3A ranks in the Intermountain League.
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
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Lady ’Cats ready for Class 3A return

Still very much built for speed on the basketball court, Ignacio head coach Trae Seibel knows his Lady Bobcats will also have to be built for battle this winter as IHS returns to the Colorado High School Activities Association’s Class 3A ranks. 

Specifically, the rugged Intermountain League, of which Ignacio was last a member in the 2007-08 season. 

“Our practices have been geared for that, big-time,” said Seibel, who’d previously led the Lady ’Cats during the ’17-18 campaign, taking them to the CHSAA Class 2A State Championships in Loveland. “We’re really just getting them into shape; we have to be a team that is able to press well and be able to break a press.” 

“We’re back in the IML, so … for us, it changes our whole dynamic; there’s no more winning 89-2 or things like that,” he continued. “It’s going to be a dogfight day in and day out. Centauri looks great, Pagosa’s big, Alamosa’s going to be tough … and we have to go through those teams now to get to the next level. Our dynamic’s had to change; it’s intensified, for sure.” 

Having surfaced above .500 just twice during the 2021-22 grind, the Lady ’Cats fortunately broke even under one-year skipper Tony Gomez despite falling 47-38 at Peyton in the 2A-Region VIII semifinals. Ignacio finished 11-11 overall – making the Lady ’Cat program 180-126 in its 14 2A/1A San Juan Basin League seasons – and would later lose starter Avaleena Nanaeto, reserve Elisia Cruz and injured Monika Lucero to graduation. 

“We did get basically everybody back,” said Seibel, “so we’re returning players and hoping that we can build off of last year, continue to grow. That’s my biggest thing: To get better.” 

“What we’re doing a lot different is bringing in a system of read-and-react. And a lot of low-post, high-post attack,” he continued. “We’re really going to build upon the guard set we’ve got … and the girls are now learning how to play their positions, learning about mismatches, and really growing their intelligence – to figure out how to take the basketball and put it in the hoop!” 

Senior guard Laci Brunson returns to anchor the backcourt, and will be joined by junior Darlyn Mendoza-Lechuga, sophomore Marissa Olguin, junior Maci Barnes and others. Freshman Alyssa Atencio, according to Seibel, will be a prospect worth watching, with further depth offered by potential returnees Alexis Ortiz, Lauren deKay, Grace Pargin and Dalaney Wesner. 

“We’ve got about four to five guards that are quick and know how to work hard. Right now it’s just about refining their skills, teaching them how to go inside, pass to our posts,” he said, “and how to move with purpose and really take care of the ball.” 

“We have a strong guard set, and a strong post set as well with Soly and Harmony,” Seibel added, referring to junior Solymar Cosio and senior Harmony Reynolds. “It’s a good balance we have.” 

Joining Seibel on the bench will be a coaching staff headed by varsity assistants Gina Cosio and Cloe Seibel. Avionne Gomez returns to direct the junior-varsity squad, and Makayla Howell will oversee the C-team. 

“In the IML, Gina was a force,” he stated. “And she’d coached under Chris Valdez when he was the girls’ coach; she’s got a lot of experience. These ladies that I’ve hired, it’s good for the young ladies to look up to them and go, ‘These girls used to play a high level of basketball!’ It’s good mentorship. And for the coaches a good opportunity to give back what they’ve learned.” 

The Lady ’Cats will get underway Thursday, Dec. 1, facing Olathe at the Centauri-hosted Mountain Top Classic. Tip-off in La Jara against the Lady Pirates (10-11 overall in ’21-22) is scheduled for 7 p.m. 

IHS defeated OHS twice last season – once at the MTC, and later in the 2A-District 3 Tournament’s third-place game, ending Olathe’s season while extending their own into the Class 2A State Tournament’s opening Round-of-32. 

The winner will then face either Dove Creek – which reached last season’s Class 1A State Championships and finished 21-3 overall – or Centauri’s JV at 2:30 p.m. on the 2nd; the IHS-OHS loser will face the DCHS-CHS JV loser at 11:30 a.m. 

“Our goal is to really compete,” Seibel said. “My focus is on Olathe, make sure we take care of business, and see what we’ve got right off the bat.” 

Also in the mix will be Centauri’s varsity – last season’s IML champion with a 7-1 mark, and 14-9 overall record after falling in the 3A State Tournament’s ‘Sweet 16’ stage – plus now-5A Durango (17-8, eliminated in the Class 4A ‘Sweet 16’), now-3A Cedaredge (22-4, fifth place at the 2A State Championships), and still-3A Brush (9-12). 

“You know, coming back again to lead the girls … it’s a blessing,” declared Seibel. “But we’ve got to stay humble; we’re not trying to lead with egos, but trying to really commit to working our butts off … and seeing where that takes us.” 

Now classified as a 4A/3A league, the Intermountain includes now-4A programs Alamosa and Pagosa Springs, plus still-3As Centauri, Bayfield and Montezuma-Cortez. For postseason play, CHSAA has designated Southern Peaks Leaguers Crested Butte to be part of a district comprised of IHS (reclassified to 3A this year for basketball only), BHS, CHS and M-CHS. 

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