IHS’ 11-trey torrent floods Dolores

John Valdez (25)
Joaquin King (20)
Ignacio's John Valdez (25) joins teammate Austin McCaw (12) in prying the ball from the grasp of Dolores' Stetson Hamilton (24) during varsity play inside DHS Gymnasium.
Ignacio's Joaquin King (20) lets fly a three-point attempt over Dolores' Jalen Balderrama (10) during varsity action inside DHS Gymnasium.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

Directed to an out-of-position Bear, regarding Ignacio’s locked-and-loaded Tucker Ward, Dolores head coach Larry Schwartz’s ,“You know he’s gonna shoot it!” shout really could have applied to any of the Bobcats visiting DHS Gymnasium the night of Friday, Jan. 30th.

IHS’ junior guard, meanwhile, indeed let fly from just inside the three-point arc and swished the shot to put Class 2A’s still-third-ranked [CHSAANow.com poll, issued Feb. 2nd] squad ahead by an unassuming 10-4 count with 2:59 left in the first quarter.

Ward’s eagerness to fire, however, likely stemmed from what both he and Schwartz had already seen, and what would quickly and ultimately doom DHS in a 71-38 San Juan Basin League decision: The long ball.

Ignacio juniors Wyatt Hayes and Anthony Manzanares, for example, had hit threes on the guests’ first two tries and would combine for five more in the Bobcats’ impressive 11-triple assault.

“This is a team that’s already seen us play, the only team that we’ve played for the second time this year – they’re going to be ready for us!” head coach Chris Valdez said of Dolores. “And I told the kids that they had to come out and match their own intensity, be aggressive on both ends of the floor. They did a good job.”

Manzanares’ second trey of the first quarter gave IHS its first double-digit lead of the game at 14-4, and with his crew later going into the second trailing 18-5, Schwartz could only watch and hope the best for his side as the game was rapidly put out of reach three points at a time.

Able to go toe-to-toe with Ignacio early in the frame, and actually outscoring the ’Cats 10-8 in its early goings, DHS saw senior reserve guard Xavier Reynolds sink a three for a 29-15 Ignacio advantage. Hayes then followed, freshman reserve Kruz Pardo struck twice, and Ward finished off a 15-point long-distance blitz to make the margin at halftime an overwhelming 41-15.

“This is what he wants to see,” Manzanares said, regarding Valdez’s goals. “We talked about better passes and harder stepping to the ball, stuff like that…little things. But we’re going to take care of that in practice.”

Manzanares (17 points) began the third quarter with the team’s ninth three-ball, and after a Hayes steal, leading to an Austin McCaw free throw, finished a breakaway with a layup to force a flustered Schwartz into a timeout with Dolores down 47-15.

Cruising into the fourth ahead 58-21, the Cats (10-2, 6-0 SJBL) twice held sway by 43 points, at 69-26 on Nick Herrera’s humorously flat-footed ‘jumper’ – after getting hung up by the rim on an attempted dunk – in the lane and at 71-28 when the junior center elected to convert a much simpler lay-in than try for another jam.

Helping DHS (2-11, 2-6) end the game on a 10-0 spree against Ignacio’s youngest varsity call-ups, Bear senior Mikeal Ford booked the last five of his game-best 18 points. Reserve Stetson Hamilton recorded four, as did fellow backup Josh McCoy, but starters Jalen Balderrama and Brandon Donaldson each managed just three.

Hayes finished with 16, and Herrera totaled 14 despite 2-of-6 free-throw accuracy. Ward ended with seven points, Pardo his aforementioned six, Reynolds five, Austin McCaw four and Cole McCaw two.

And oh yeah, standout forward Adison Jones never even removed his warm-up shirt.

“We just wanted to come out with intensity, because we know we’re missing our big man,” Manzanares said of the rest-rewarded senior. “Just wanted to play hard for him…come out with intensity and give a statement.”

“Austin picked up the slack in there … kicked butt on rebounds!” Valdez stated. “He did his job, and that’s what I liked. His job was to make sure he…filled that spot, and he did it with class tonight. Absolute class.”

Up next for the Bobcats was to be a Feb. 3 trip to Mancos, the third stop in a five-game road stretch of their schedule, but results were unavailable by the Drum’s deadline. IHS was then to head north on the Feb. 7 to test emerging Ouray – which stood 11-1, 5-1 prior to hosting local rival Ridgway on the 3rd – and then visit 3A Bayfield on the 10th before resuming SJBL duty inside SunUte Community Center on the 13th against RHS.

“We’ve got to take care of Mancos. They’re going to be tough, you know, especially if we don’t have Adi back yet,” Valdez said. “But we’ll play tough, not…afraid of them – they’ve got a big guy that we’ve got to match up with somehow – and when we come to Ouray we’ll worry about Ouray. We’re not scared of anybody.”

OHS had descended from #5 to #8 in the Jan. 26th Class 1A rankings (and stayed there in the 2/2 edition).

“We’re going to take it game by game,” said Manzanares, “have fun and play hard…let it talk for itself.”


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