’Cats down Tigers in home opener

Ignacio's Eppie Quintana plants a hard pivot foot while losing Del Norte's Tyler Gallegos behind a Devante Montoya (11) screen Saturday, Dec. 10, inside IHS Gymnasium. Quintana scored 16 points in the Bobcats' 40-20 win.
Ignacio's Devante Montoya (11) picks the pocket of Del Norte's Tyler Gallegos (1) during a 40-20 victory Saturday, Dec. 10, inside IHS Gymnasium.
Ignacio's Gabe Cox (21) wins – by quite a margin – a jump ball against Del Norte's Michael Laymon (5), getting the Bobcats' Dec. 10 home opener underway inside IHS Gymnasium.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

Saying there was a lid on the rim may have been an understatement. 

Until reserve Tyler Gallegos joined the scoring late in the fourth quarter Saturday evening, Dec. 10, visiting Del Norte had just one more made basket than teammate Josh Gonzales had fouls. And he’d been whistled for his disqualifying fifth with only 1:54 of regulation time remaining in what ended up being a 40-20 road loss in Ignacio. 

“Yesterday we gave a real poor performance, and we all knew it. From the coaches to the kids, we took responsibility for that and had to bounce back,” IHS head coach Chris Valdez said, alluding to the Bobcats’ 49-24 defeat the previous night at Sanford. “Today was a must-win; I told them, ‘If we don’t win today, we’re done. Season’s over.’ And they responded.” 

“Honestly, man, we can’t go out and be scared of anybody. Yeah, they’re big or whatever, but we all played scared that night,” senior Eppie Quintana said in agreement. “Got our tails tucked between our legs and backed down to a big challenge.” 

“In these bigger games that are going to start coming up, with the Alamosas, the Centauris – Sanford’s not half as good as those teams – you know, we can’t let that happen. Or it’s going to be a long season for all of us.” 

Leading 6-2 after a slow first quarter, the ’Cats (2-3, 0-0 3A/4A Intermountain) quickly increased their advantage to 14-3 via sophomore Coty Webb’s three-pointer with 3:24 left in the second – during which Gonzales was called for four infractions. 

Able to coast into halftime ahead 15-7, having held Tiger senior standout Ben Parra to just three points (of his six total), Ignacio effectively pulled away by winning the third quarter 14-6 – helped by what was essentially a five-point play when, after junior center/forward Gabe Cox missed an and-one free throw, Quintana (16 points) converted the Bobcats’ offensive rebound into a three-pointer with 1:01 left, upping the home team’s lead to 29-13 going into the final frame. 

“They’ve got good shooters – all those kids there can shoot – but our quickness is…our strength defensively. Even with our big guys; they’re bony but they can get out there and guard the three-pointer – it kept their other kids from scoring when we were box-and-one on Parra,” said Valdez. “You can’t let Parra get loose for more than 10, 12 points; when he’s over 12 you’re going to lose. We kept him down, and that’s why we won.” 

Cox totaled eight points, with Webb and junior guard Devante Montoya each totaling five. Junior guard Phillip Quintana contributed four points, while senior forward/center Dylan McCaw and sophomore forward Charlie Pargin each booked one. 

Senior post Michael Laymon led DNHS (2-1 overall) with eight points, despite going 2-of-7 from the free-throw line. Gallegos, senior reserve Camden Crowell and sophomore starter Tytus Atencio each chipped in two points. 

Against SHS, Class 2A’s preseason No. 1 but bumped down to No. 3 in the 12/5 CHSAANow.com poll after a season-opening 65-33 loss on the 2nd at Salida (No. 6 in 3A at the time), Ignacio trailed 16-8 after one quarter and 29-14 entering intermission and never could really rein in the Mustangs. 

Eppie Quintana managed to score seven points, and Montoya, Cox and McCaw each registered four. Pargin and Phillip Quintana each logged two points, and junior reserve Trajan Garcia one. 

Senior post McCray Larsen led Sanford (1-1 overall) with his game-high 15 points, and junior Cash Caldon joined him in double figures with 12. Junior Lincoln Reynolds and sophomore Ben Sittler each finished with seven points. 

Wrapping up the pre-holiday portion of their schedule, the Bobcats will host 2A Sargent (2-2 overall) Friday night, Dec. 16. Results from IHS’ road trip to 2A Mancos (2-4) the night before were unavailable at press time. 

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