Thu Feb 5th, 2015
Special to the Drum
Tags: Alejandra Lujan, Amya Bison, Avionne Gomez, Bekah Powell, Cortney Baker, DHS, Dolores, ellie seibel, Hilda Garcia, Ignacio, IHS, Lady Bears, lady bobcats, Larry Schwartz, san juan basin league, Shane Seibel
Likely built to shoehorn as many of a small town’s supporters as possible into as small a space as possible, DHS Gymnasium still leaves spectators for such an engagement as Ignacio-Dolores with little wiggle room.
The heated San Juan Basin League rivalry itself, controlled by IHS’ girls in recent meetings, always leaves the teams’ leaders with even less-comfortable margins – as witnessed Friday, January 30th, in which the Lady Bears’ Larry Schwartz, rather than the Lady Bobcats’ Shane Seibel, was the skipper often pumping his fist in celebration.
“We just wanted to come out and show them that we were a contender, that we could be a contender in districts,” said Dolores senior center Taylor Elder, “and I think we did that.”
But unfortunately not enough of ‘that’; after having played Ignacio to an 8-8 draw through one quarter and then gaining a 19-16 halftime advantage, DHS saw IHS freshman Hilda Garcia net six third-quarter points and seven in the fourth as the visitors rallied ahead, 30-29, by the end of the third and separated down the stretch to win 42-35.
“They did really get better on their defense and offense,” Lady Cat junior guard Cortney Baker said of the Lady Bears afterwards. “It was very intense, exciting … got us back in the groove to push ourselves even harder.”
“I think we were just really excited to play, and we were a little over our heads,” sophomore center Alejandra Lujan added, regarding IHS’ first-half struggles. “But we got back together and got ’em.”
Seibel said his team showed a lot of character and were able to stage aa come back during the game.
“They didn’t get on each other, they didn’t panic; they continued to just try to grind through it! We got into halftime and stressed defense – defense from our guards, defense from getting beat backdoor – and they responded,” Seibel said.
From as far behind as 17-10 after a second consecutive Elder turnaround jumper went down with just 2:30 before intermission, the Lady Bobcats’ first true lead came at 20-19 on a Lujan basket – but was quickly erased by Dolores’ Larissa Umberger countering immediately with a fast layup and drawing Lujan’s third foul, to boot.
With senior Amya Bison on the bench but not in uniform, and juniors Ellie Seibel and Bekah Powell not even in the building, that problem could have been drastically exploited – especially by Elder, at both ends.
“Showed that I need to get a backup in a hurry to really know that offense!” joked a relieved Seibel afterwards. “Because we have specific positions, forwards and centers. They can co-mingle a little bit, but without Alejandra it really puts a crimp on things – you know, it really eliminates about half of our plays!”
“Last year we did a lot of read-and-react where we did those cuts – they dish it to me inside and I dish it back out to them – and I think it’s just kind of automatic for me and the guards,” Elder explained. “We’ve played together for so long…it just kind of happens without us even thinking about it, really.”
Elder netted a team-high 12 points.
“We played really well as a team, I think. That’s what really made us be a contender.”
But also what ultimately lifted Ignacio to victory – strong second-half board work, led by Garcia, Baker and freshman Avionne Gomez – helped limit chances of Elder, Umberger and Nicole Kibel in the clutch and IHS took the lead for good late in the fourth, at 34-33 on a Garcia layup of a Lujan backdoor look.
“Rebounds really helped us to get our plays done, and I think being put in that spot [foul trouble] really helped me to look up and move forward,” said Lujan, who finished with six points and an unofficial nine caroms.
At last putting the Lady Bears down for the count, Gomez nailed a crippling trey to build the lead up to 37-33, and with 1:24 remaining Garcia coldly followed suit to make it a seven-point contest.
“Two big threes from the freshmen … ignited us,” Seibel said. “Hilda had a tough night shooting, but she’s our shooter so you’ve got to continue to shoot … and she did – capitalized on some great passes. And shouts out to Cortney and Sky [Cotton, senior guard] for their rebounding; they had some key rebounds at critical times.”
“It was really tough to, you know, not have a sub and stay in basically the whole game,” agreed Baker, held scoreless but with an unofficial five boards. “But…we didn’t get down on ourselves; we kept pushing each other.”
Garcia finished with 15 points to pace all players as the Lady Cats improved to 6-0 in league, 9-3 overall. Gomez booked nine and Cotton eight, including the game-icing two free throws, and junior Gibran Silva had four.
Kibel and Umberger each had seven for DHS (4-9, 3-7 SJBL), which made only seven FT’s in 21 tries.
“Hats off to Dolores; [Schwartz] had them prepared. From when we played them first to now…they’ve improved tremendously,” said Seibel, his side 12-18 at the stripe. “It was a great game…the way it should be!”
Up next, the Lady Cats – still a high ‘Receiving Votes’ crew in the CHSAANow.com Class 2A poll – will travel to Ouray on Saturday, Feb. 7. Results from their Feb. 3 trip to Mancos were unavailable by the Drum’s deadline.