Long-ball shooting buoys young ’Cats
Aptly named for the damage he was to do, Ignacio guard Rain Rosa almost singlehandedly doused visiting Silverton’s fire, kindled in an unexpected first-quarter fray Dec. 19th inside SunUte Community Center.
Connecting on consecutive three-point tries to begin the second quarter, then sinking two free throws in immediate response to the guests’ first hoop in the frame, Rosa buried yet another trey just 0:03 before halftime – solidifying what had been a shaky seven-point lead through eight minutes into a concrete 37-18 pad through sixteen, en route to a 58-35 triumph for the Bobcat C-team boys over the Miner co-ed varsity.
“I just was more focused this game, wasn’t really messing around,” said Rosa, whose 16 total points paced the squad. “And I think our whole team was. We just had to wake up a little… and we did what we had to do.”
“It was good,” added guard Juanito Medina. “We gave it our all in the first half, like we did the second.”
Had IHS not done so in the first two quarters, however, the unusual game ending 2014 could have taken on a much different look. The Cats drained nine triples altogether before all was said and done, but their first two – both made by Medina – were just as (if not more so) important as Rosa’s later trifecta [pun intended].
SHS forward Martin Torres began the contest with a basket, but Medina promptly answered from downtown. Torres countered with a free throw to tie, but Medina’s next conversion put IHS up 6-3. Oddly unfazed, Silverton went back to work and recovered to take leads of 7-6 on a Luis Castro inside bucket, and 9-8 on an Ernesto Saldana hoop assisted by Alexis Gallegos.
Ignacio reserve guard Dan Weaver then hit the Bobcats’ third triple for an 11-9 lead, and a later Joseph Vigil three followed by a Medina breakaway finish put the home team ahead 19-12 when the buzzer sounded.
“You know, Silverton has the benefit of coming from 9,300 feet. So obviously we always like to try to run and gun, kind of wear ’em down a little bit – we do have oxygen on our side,” said Miner head coach Larry Gallegos, at the helm after Dan Salazar left to aid first-year 1A Grand Junction Caprock Academy’s girls’ program.
“That’s kind of always our strategy. This year we’ve kind of changed things up a little – last year we were more of a ‘set’ team – trying to run and gun more and use our elevation as a benefit.”
“It was pretty surprising,” admitted Rosa, of Silverton’s non-stop pace. “I knew we’d have to be prepared, and the first half we sort of struggled. But in the second half we got our game together.”
“We kind of decided to lay off the three-pointers and just work on our routine and our plays,” explained Medina, as Ignacio began slowing their offense down in hopes of not only mastering their own execution, but also to limit Silverton’s aggressive rebounding, and thus running.
The Cats scored just eight points in the third quarter and 13 in the fourth, but still held leads of 45-24 and the aforementioned final margin, respectively, after each.
“We’ve got to tip our hats off to Ignacio,” said Gallegos. “Killed us at the three-point line; we tried to adjust and they just did a heck of a job. They knocked down those long balls all day long…did a great job.”
“Yeah, we’ve been working with the kids on their offense, making sure that they take open shots and not just taking any three-point shot,” IHS head coach Johnny Valdez said. “Work the ball and get a wide-open look. And…get good rebounds; we had good rebounding to go with that shooting. It worked out very well for us.”
All nine Bobcats utilized contributed to the team’s scoring, with Medina totaling ten points and Weaver eight. Vigil chipped in seven before fouling out with 0:18.7 left in the game, and Jaden Maez netted six.
Torres struck for eight points in the fourth, giving him a game-high 18 despite his 2-of-16 woes at the foul line (SHS was just 5-of-23 collectively; IHS was 7-of-13). Edgar Avitia scored seven, Saldana totaled six and Castro and Talitha Gallegos each booked two. Castro corralled 12 rebounds, Torres pulled in nine and Avitia eight.
“They have some good athletes on that team. They’re working on their program – it’s their third year back, playing co-ed – and it’s difficult to get as many kids as we have,” said Valdez. “Here at Ignacio, we get about seventy-five percent of the kids that play basketball!”
“It’s awesome just to see our kids come around like they do, with the heart they play with,” Gallegos said. “So going forward we want to continue to grow the game…in Silverton – passing, dribbling and shooting!”