Ignacio's Gabe Cox (21) receives a pass while being tightly guarded by Bayfield's Isaac Forsythe during Intermountain League action Saturday afternoon, Feb. 3, inside BHS Gymnasium.
Ignacio's Phillip Quintana (10) looks to pass while dashing past Bayfield's Lincoln Williams during Intermountain League action Saturday afternoon, Feb. 3, inside BHS Gymnasium.
Ignacio's Sonny Flores (1) leaps away from Pagosa Springs' Creede Dozier (right) to attempt a running scoop shot during Intermountain League play Friday night, Feb. 2, at PSHS.
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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Wolverines deny ’Cats a season sweep

Buzzer-beaters not enough for IHS in rematch 

Despite a dominant performance by players coming off his bench Saturday afternoon, February 3, in Bayfield, Ignacio head coach Chris Valdez was again left wondering – for the second time in as many days – what might have been if not for another second-quarter lull. 

Even one not as prolonged as in the previous night’s 45-23 loss at Pagosa Springs, in which the Pirates erased an early 7-2 deficit to go up 8-7 after one quarter and extended their run in the second to a game-breaking 18 points unanswered before Bobcat senior center Gabe Cox sank two free throws with 3:03 left until halftime. 

“Bayfield played well,” he said in the wake of a 55-44 road loss, the Bobcats’ fourth straight overall, “but I thought we dropped the ball defensively. Happens every time in the second quarter; we hold everybody down – even Pagosa last night – and then … They’re hitting shots and we’re not remembering where people are.” 

Cox won the opening tip against Dominick Albo – inserted into BHS head coach Damon White Thunder’s Senior Day lineup along with fellow JV ‘swinger’ Sean Zimmerman, to join regular Cody Ross plus juniors Lincoln Williams and Cooper Roderick – and despite missing enough shots to permit Roderick and sophomore Kingston Martinez to each snare four rebounds during the first frame, the ’Cats got two baskets from sophomore guard/forward Trace Crane. 

Sophomore guard Ambrose Valdez and senior guard Trajan Garcia – who both entered as substitutes – also made one three-pointer each as Ignacio built up a promising 10-2 lead through eight minutes. 

And the advantage grew to 15-5 before Ambrose Valdez was given a technical foul with 4:21 left until halftime. Roderick made one of two free throws, then soon hit two of three after drawing a foul while shooting from behind the arch. Roderick’s next two makes from the foul line brought the Wolverines back to 18-14, and with junior reserve Austin Wilmer making three of four tries from the charity stripe, Bayfield (3-13 overall, 1-6 3A/4A Intermountain) rallied all the way back to 20-19. 

“We were in that 2-3 (zone defense) and did really good, you know, for a while,” said Chris Valdez. “We held them to two points in the first quarter – and then they started hitting and we weren’t rotating into position.” 

The ’Cats (6-9, 2-5 IML), however, reminded all in attendance that in a backyard-rivalry contest, anything can happen. 

Receiving a pass from senior guard Phillip Quintana out on the left wing, barely more than an arm’s length away from BHS’ student section, IHS junior guard/forward Coty Webb considered twisting left, but spun right and in the same motion let fly a buzzer-beating three-pointer off the window and down through the net. 

Feared sniper Roderick began the third quarter answering with a three, again cutting the deficit down to just a digit, and after the pace slowed somewhat, the Wolverines at last gained the lead when unexpected hero Brendan Heydinger, a junior reserve, drilled a surprise three putting Bayfield up 25-23 with 4:41 left. Ross then fed Roderick for a transition layup with 4:19 to go, and the Bobcats’ boss knew it was time to burn a timeout. 

But Bayfield – lacking injured interior presence Vin McCullough – wasn’t rattled; Williams converted a steal into two more points and Roderick extended BHS’ uninterrupted scoring run to 13-0 with another trey, increasing the locals’ lead to 32-23. Ignacio junior forward Charley Pargin then swished a three, but again, the Wolverines weren’t shaken; blanked during the first half, Martinez responded with a triple forcing the ’Cats to again try closing a nine-point (35-26) gap. 

Energetic sophomore reserve guard Sonny Flores helped IHS take the first step towards doing so with a successful take through the paint, and a recomposed Ambrose Valdez sent the game into its fourth quarter by launching a two-handed, buzzer-beating three from ten feet behind the midcourt line – yet again proving neither team could be counted out. 

Fueled by Roderick and Williams, BHS still held a 41-34 lead before Pargin sank a sneaky corner three with 6:14 left in regulation. Ross, however, soon responded with his only trey, rebuilding BHS’ lead to 46-37, and Ignacio got no closer the rest of the way than 46-40 via a Quintana three. 

“Hats off to them,” said Chris Valdez. “We went into man-to-man, which we don’t do much at all – we’re not a good ‘man’ team – and we got beat for easy layups, wide-open threes. For them it was good because their shooters came to life at the right times and hit shots they needed to hit.” 

Ambrose Valdez finished with four threes and a team-leading 14 points in defeat. Flores totaled a vital seven, Pargin six and Garcia three as IHS’ backups outscored Bayfield’s 30 to 14. Starters Crane and Quintana each finished with four points and Webb ended with three – as did Cox, who was held without a basket until the fourth quarter. 

“We didn’t have all negatives,” Chris Valdez noted. “We aren’t scoring out of the guard position much, and Ambrose hit a couple shots, ‘Cowboy’ (Pargin) hit a couple threes, Sonny attacked the basket and hit shots – those things were positive.” 

Finishing with three treys plus seven made free throws in nine tries, Roderick racked up a game-high 26 points for Bayfield. Williams scored ten points – all after halftime – while Martinez ended with six (via two of BHS’ seven treys; IHS totaled ten), Ross and Heydinger five apiece and Wilmer three. 

“I’m excited for Damon and those kids,” said Valdez, now 1-1 against his former top assistant. “Disappointed in the loss, but I’m happy for Bayfield— you know? Now they’ve got one win in league, but luckily, we have two.” 

The ’Cats will seek another Friday evening, Feb. 9, at Montezuma-Cortez, then host Centauri the next afternoon. Results from Ignacio’s non-league home game on the 6th versus 1A Dove Creek (6-9 overall) were unavailable at press time. 

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