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Former Ignacio Bobcat Dylan Labarthe congratulates Ignacio's Gabe Cox (21) on a game well played Thursday night, Jan. 18. Labarthe and former teammate Bryce Finn (right) made their return to IHS Gymnasium as assistant coaches for rival Bayfield (Finn is BHS' junior-varsity head coach), but the Wolverines fell 42-33 to the Bobcats in the teams' first of two regular-season meetings.
Watched by Bayfield's Kingston Martinez (13), Ignacio's Phillip Quintana looks to drive the basketball inside the three-point line during the Bobcats' home game Thursday night, Jan. 18. IHS prevailed in the teams' first of two regular-season meetings.
Ignacio's Ambrose Valdez yanks a rebound away from Bayfield's Cody Ross (2) Thursday night, Jan. 18, inside IHS Gymnasium. The Bobcats prevailed in the teams' first of two regular-season meetings.
Former Ignacio assistant coach Damon White Thunder made his return to IHS Gymnasium Thursday night, Jan. 18, as rival Bayfield's first-year head coach. The Wolverines, however, fell 42-33 to the Bobcats in the teams' first of two regular-season meetings.
Sophomore Neatris Wilbourn dribbles the ball down the court on Thursday, Jan. 18 during the game against Ignacio High School.
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
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Bobcats outlast Wolverines 42-33


Valdez defeats former aide in first meeting 

Content to simply sit on the bench and observe assistant coaches Travis Nanaeto and Clay Seibel orchestrate play during Ignacio’s junior-varsity boys’ game Thursday afternoon, Jan. 18, Bobcat boss Chris Valdez couldn’t help but laugh and zip a barb around the scorer’s table in the direction of Bayfield JV coach Bryce Finn after watching the visiting Wolverines score a basket off an inbounds play Valdez himself had called for Finn and others dozens of times throughout their Bobcat careers. 

In fact, the friendly I-taught-you-well was probably directed at not only Finn, but fellow former ’Cat-turned-BHS-assistant Dylan Labarthe and also varsity skipper Damon White Thunder – fully aware he might receive a little ribbing during his return to IHS Gymnasium, but ready to accept it all as just part of the job. 

“I put in a lot of years in here, so it’s good to be back – and go against my mentor,” White Thunder said later, following the highly-anticipated varsity showdown. “The gym, the attitudes, everything … . It was a fun game; it was electric in here.” 

Blanked for the opening 5:40 of play, Bayfield and its new brain trust faced an uphill climb for most of the contest, until senior guard Cody Ross sank a difficult baseline jumper – while being fouled – with 6:51 left in the fourth and last eight-minute quarter, tying the score at 24. 

Ignacio would answer, and rebuild a 32-26 lead before Wolverine guard Cooper Roderick – IHS’ must-stop target – sank a clutch three-pointer with 3:41 to go. But with 2:09 remaining, sophomore post Vin McCullough, tasked with shadowing Bobcat big Gabe Cox, was called for his disqualifying fifth personal foul (all were called during the final frame), allowing Ignacio to focus more intensely upon Roderick and fellow perimeter threat Kingston Martinez down the stretch. 

“30 still hit two deep ones on us,” Valdez noted, referring to Roderick – whose other trey had initially gotten the guests on the scoreboard, down 7-3 – by jersey number, “and that was just our people not responding and getting out on him. And they threw some screens on us to try to get those kids open, so I was excited about the fact that we were able to keep him from scoring four, five threes, you know? Number 30, Number 13 (Martinez) … we wanted to take that away.” 

And in the end, neither Roderick nor Martinez scored another point as the duo managed just eight points (all by Roderick) combined in a 42-33 road loss. McCullough ended up with a team-leading nine points, Ross registered seven before fouling out with 28.3 ticks left, and leaping Lincoln Williams chipped in four while collecting (unofficially) an impressive 13 rebounds. 

“He’s one of the best rebounding guards I’ve seen,” said White Thunder. “And we had Vin tied to Cox the whole game, so that was a big thing for us to have Lincoln rebound. And we played pretty well; we’ve got some defensive stuff that we ran at them … but we just couldn’t hit a shot. Tough night from the outside.” 

Sophomore Ambrose Valdez’s corner three-pointer late in the first quarter put Ignacio (6-5 overall, 2-1 3A/4A Intermountain) up 10-3 going into the second, and the Bobcats’ lead quickly grew to a dangerous 17-6 with 6:00 left until halftime when senior Trajan Garcia sank two technical-foul free throws – awarded due to BHS’ Chad Vasgird checked in without having been entered prior to tip-off in the official scorebook. 

The Wolverines (1-10, 0-3 IML), however, fought back with an 11-2 burst bringing them all the way back to 19-17 at intermission, after Roderick stole the ball, passed to Williams, who then passed ahead to McCullough for a close-range hoop. 

“Their 2-3 (zone defense) stifled us for a while and they crawled back into the game,” Valdez said. “And I then talked about the first three minutes of that third quarter being our best three minutes, and we got a nice seven-point lead which really helped us keep them in check.” 

With Cox scoring five fast points, the Bobcats went up 24-17 with 4:52 left in the third before Williams made a short jumper after gathering in a Roderick three-point miss. But with 1:10 remaining, IHS junior Coty Webb responded with a corner three off a Cox kick-out pass, and senior Phillip Quintana followed with a runner in the paint – increasing Ignacio’s lead to 29-19 before BHS junior Austin Wilmer canned a corner three at the buzzer … and shot defender Ambrose Valdez a stare hinting the Pine River Rivalry was very much alive and well, even if the Wolverines weren’t destined to prevail. 

All told, Cox finished with a game-high 16 points and grabbed (unofficially) 15 rebounds. Garcia (4-4 FT) and Valdez (2-6 FT) each totaled seven points, Quintana contributed five, Webb three, junior Charley Pargin two and sophomore Sonny Flores two. From the charity stripe, IHS ended up 14-of-23 and BHS 6-of-11. 

“The kids played hard,” Chris Valdez said. “We made some mistakes – tons of mistakes – and there’s stuff we’ve got to work on, but I thought we did a good enough job to get the win – which was all we wanted to do.” 

The Bobcats are slated to next see action Friday, Jan. 26, in La Jara at Centauri, then remain in the San Luis Valley to visit Alamosa the next evening. Bayfield, meanwhile, was to host Pagosa Springs on the 20th, with the 4A Pirates (12-1, 3-0) having won 53-43 at 4A Alamosa (8-4, 1-2) the night before. 

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