Ridgway Demons dropped in Ignacio

Determined to become a defender of our nation, just as willing to defend a basketball hoop, Ridgway’s Paul Fouts no doubt wishes for more good men like senior forward/prospective U.S. Army combat medic Corbyn Robinson on his roster.

Especially when battling Ignacio, against whom the Demons —more than any other San Juan Basin League team since the Bobcats’ entry to the loop — have stood the best chance of victory.

It didn’t come for RHS on Saturday, Jan. 19 inside IHS Gymnasium, but the team sporting green could take comfort in knowing that Chris Valdez was not a giddy general.

Even after a 51-41 win that bumped the Cats up to 8-2 overall, 2-0 in the SJBL.

“Yeah,” he said, “but you have to take it in halves. The first half … we led 14 to three after the first quarter, and 31 to 10 at halftime. We probably played the best defense we’ve played all year.”

But in getting ready for the anticipated rematch with Pagosa Springs (9-1, 1-0 3A Intermountain coming in) on the Tuesday, Jan. 22 — completed after the Drum went to print — at home, Valdez’s concern came after a sudden slew of Demon three-pointers down the stretch that almost shocked the house.

“We probably had a 17-, 18-point lead, and they hit about four threes,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to stop them defensively, or we’re not going to win those close games, especially when we have to play teams like Sanford, Sargent in the playoffs.”

But despite Ridgway’s wake-up call, Valdez noticed a postseason-minded quality in his men.

“They weren’t excited, knew they were going to hear it,” he said of the locker-room scene afterward. “They weren’t high-fiving each other, getting changed. … They were still in their jerseys, sitting around in the desks, and I told them … we’re 30 points better than those guys if we play to our best.”

Justin Carver led the Cats with 18 points, and by Valdez’s count, yanked down 11 rebounds. Low-post teammate Adison Jones netted seven, but collected a reported 15 caroms despite RHS resistance from big junior Nathan Hagemeyer (12 points) and Robinson (nine).

Ignacio guards Clayton Jefferson and Wyatt Hayes also posted strong numbers after helping dictate the game’s early pace. Jefferson notched 12 points, with five assists and four steals, while Hayes booked a 6-7-7 line. Opposing counterpart Quinn Strickler led the Demons (3-5, 2-3 SJBL) with 14 points.

Hampered by foul trouble, Kelton Richmond scored just two points in the win, but had some help from freshmen Nick Herrera (four points) and Anthony Manzanares (two). Senior Weston Patton, with six, was the only other Ridgway player to score.

After PSHS’ visit, Ignacio hosts Sargent on Saturday, Jan. 26 in a weather-postponed, non-league contest (4 p.m. start), before resuming league action on Friday, Feb. 1 against Nucla and the next day at Ouray.

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