Fri Mar 21st, 2014
Special to the Drum
Tags: 2A State Basketball Championships, 2A-Region III Tournament, Angela Herrera, Ashley VanVleet, Braiden Clement, Carson Pipher, cloe seibel, ellie seibel, Fort Lewis College, gabriela garcia, Ignacio, lady bobcats, Lady Eagles, michelle simmons, Morgan Hartigan, Paonia, Scott Rienks, Shane Seibel, Steve Hill, Whalen Gymnasium
Wearing the same uniform and number as Ignacio’s previous hero in its previous meeting with Paonia, senior Gabriela Garcia did her best on Friday, March 7, to try channeling now-graduated Michelle Simmons’ 2013 mojo—canning a running three-pointer as the buzzer sounded, ending the first half and bringing the Lady Bobcats back to within three, 17-14.
Even more impressive than her heave was the fact that IHS had virtually wiped out a 13-2 deficit facing them after just one quarter inside Fort Lewis College’s Whalen Gymnasium; PHS guard Braiden Clement’s nine-point outburst had threatened to turn the 2A-Region III Tournament semifinal into a lopsided laugher. And even head coach Scott Rienks had to chuckle at his good fortune.
“Braiden Clement did not score for me this last weekend in our district tournament,” he stated, stressing each word. “But she’s one of my senior leaders—would get in the gym every morning at seven o’clock, by herself, work on her game—and I talked to her…said, ‘You can do this; I believe in you, and she just…played like we know she can; she was relaxed, comfortable, hit her shots and that really got us going,” Reinks said.
But the Lady Bobcats’ season wasn’t truly in jeopardy until the Lady Eagles went on a 10-0 run in the third quarter—after IHS quickly got back to 17-16—to separate for good en route to winning 44-24.
“You know, their press was very aggressive,” said Ignacio boss Shane Seibel. “We talked about having patience on that second cutter…once we found that outlet, then be aggressive to the basket once we got past that first wave. I mean, we got open shots and they were falling and we were able to climb right back into it.”
“We lost our patience…once they went into a zone for us,” he continued, regarding the unfortunate third quarter (after which the Lady Cats trailed 31-18).
“It threw us out of balance a little bit and we just weren’t able to capitalize on our open shots.”
“We changed up our defense and I think that threw a wrinkle at ’em…kind of took them out of their game,” Rienks said. “We’ve got to quit our foul trouble; I haven’t seen the stats [yet], but I think we probably gave up more points at the foul line than we did from the field.”
His guess wasn’t far from the truth; Ignacio was 11-of-19 from the charity stripe, and Garcia (15 total points, 4-7 FT) netted 11 of IHS’ 13 other points. Senior Cloe Seibel scored four, classmate Angela Herrera two, and sophomore Ellie Seibel three by halving her six FT tries.
Clement finished with a game-best 16 points, and sophomore center Ashley VanVleet booked six for Paonia. Senior guard Carson Pipher and junior guard Morgan Hartigan each registered five, but PHS’ free-throw accuracy was an unsatisfying 6-of-13.
“I was happy to get out with a win,” admitted Rienks. “Now we’ve just got to face Steve Hill! Steve and I have faced off many a time over the years—last…was in 1998 in the State Championship [Rienks’ De Beque downed Hill’s Ridgway 59-53 in the 1A boys’ finale] game, so it’s going to be fun.”
Improving to 19-5 overall, the Lady Eagles ultimately got the better of Hill—who was later rumored to be re-retiring—and his RHS Lady Demons the next afternoon, 47-42, and got the regional’s championship and berth into the 2A State Basketball Championships in Pueblo.
“I’m just really so proud of the girls, because they turned into young women along that journey,” Seibel said.
His first season at the helm freshly concluded with an 8-14 overall mark.
“And to learn really, basically, everything new from philosophy to offense and defense…for them to really grasp it and move forward with it, it just warmed my heart. Touched me to know that.”