Ignacio's Phillip Quintana (10) attempts a three-pointer against Crested Butte's Alan Prieto (14) during neutral-site play Sat., Dec. 11, in Telluride, Colo.
Ignacio's Eppie Quintana (20) swoops in for a close-range try over Rye's Brandon Benz on Day 2 of the Centauri-hosted Mountain Top Classic, Dec. 2-4 out in La Jara.
Ignacio's Devante Montoya (11) knocks down a three-pointer against Crested Butte during neutral-site action Sat., Dec. 11, in Telluride, Colo.
Ignacio's Gabe Tucson (3) rises over Crested Butte's Alan Prieto (14) for two of his 27 points during neutral-site action Sat., Dec. 11, in Telluride, Colo. Through the Bobcats' first four games of the 2021-22 season, Tucson had totaled 93 points (23.25 per).
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
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BREAKING THE BUTTE: Bobcats beat Titans 

Tucson matches CBCS’ 27-point count 

Having seen just before tip-off Sat., Dec. 11, what Crested Butte Community School’s Alan Prieto could do, Chris Valdez was beyond contented that his Ignacio Bobcats allowed the senior to do nothing of the sort when the Titans needed him most. 

“That big (Prieto) they have can shoot the ball! I mean, I saw him in warm-ups hitting 20 out of 25, but we were able to get a hand in his face and … he didn’t hit any,” Valdez said afterwards, alluding to IHS allowing Prieto zero points after halftime while inflating their own nine-point pad to 36-17 through three quarters and ultimately 49-27 through four inside site-neutral Telluride’s MinerDome. “Got tired, I think, in the second half because he’s like Gabe, has to carry a lot of their load.” 

Coming in a week recuperated from a memorable three-game, 66-point performance out in La Jara at the season-opening Dec. 2-4 Mountain Top Classic hosted by 3A Centauri, senior Gabe Tucson joined Prieto in respectively bearing, for all practical purposes, his team’s burden at the offensive end during the first half: The scoreboard showed Ignacio leading CBCS 24-15; the scorebook showed Tucson leading Prieto 20-12, after canning an NBA-range, right-wing three-pointer at the buzzer, in response to Prieto swishing two free throws with 0:04.4 left on the clock. 

“He was able to control the floor … the one guy that’s patient out there for us right now,” said Valdez. “We’re just running like chickens with our heads cut off, and if we could dial that back a little bit, I think we could save three, four possessions a game.” 

“And that’ll get better throughout the year; right now, we’re very impatient with the ball, and that’s just … young kids learning how to play the game.” 

With junior Dylan McCaw out due to illness, reserves Charlie Pargin (six points) and Gabe Cox (two) were most effective in aiding Tucson in preventing Prieto from setting up shop in the paint. That being achieved, additional help could be had in the form of Devante Montoya, plus Eppie and Phillip Quintana; Ignacio allowed Crested Butte only three two-point buckets – two coming from Titan reserves – after halftime. 

“We didn’t adjust as much as being aware, making (Prieto) go outside because he scored most his baskets inside on us. And we knew he’d be tired late; at the end of last year, he was in great shape, and this year …. It’s early; we’re all in horrible shape,” Valdez said. “So, we knew we could keep him outside … and make everybody else try to beat us – that’s kind of what we did.” 

“With Charlie and Gabe rotating in and out of (McCaw’s) post position, fighting for minutes, that’s going to make them better players, you know?” 

The ’Cats made their decisive move in the third quarter, and almost immediately with Phillip Quintana (five points) cashing a three-pointer out of the corner nearest IHS’ bench, then Montoya a trey from the opposite wing. Pargin would then feed Eppie Quintana (four points) for a basket close, swelling Ignacio’s lead to 32-15, and after CBCS’ Ben Barney managed to net a two-pointer, IHS answered with hoops by Tucson (27 points) and Pargin to cruise into the final frame comfortably ahead. 

“Once we got that push, we just kept adding onto it, kept that energy up,” said Tucson. 

“Phillip, hitting that three – and then Devante – when they went to that box-and-one …. Two quick threes, and all of a sudden (Crested Butte) came out of that box-and-one,” Valdez said, “totally frazzled – the game was pretty much over.” 

Having splattered 2A Sargent 55-14 in their season-opener on Day 1 of the MTC before falling 45-40 on Day 2 to 2A Rye and then 53-52 on Day 3 to 2A Cedaredge, the Bobcats improved to 2-2 overall with the win over 2A Crested Butte (1-3). 

Tucson was named All-Tournament at the Mountain Top, his 28-point explosion – featuring four three-pointers in the second quarter, equaled incredibly by Bruin sophomore Luke Maxey – in the third-place game the event’s preeminent performance, regardless of a front-end 1-and-1 FT miss with only 0:01.8 left in the epic. 

“I thought he was the best player in the whole tournament,” Valdez would declare. “And I think the crowd changed; we almost had everyone in the whole place cheering for us, because of the biggest heart I’ve ever seen.” 

“Tucson … one unbelievable player,” said Cedaredge head coach Lane Varner. “I mean, hats off to him. Maxey did go tit-for-tat with Tucson, and we needed that tonight – especially (against) a great, well-coached team.” 

Maxey (18 points) and CHS teammate Gideon Gilmore (24 points; 12 in the fourth quarter) also earned All-MTC. 


Mountain Top Classic Final-Round Results 

1st – Centauri 57, Rye 30; 3rd – CEDAREDGE 53, IGNACIO 52; 5th – Durango 53, Olathe 19; 7th – Rocky Ford 53, Sargent 20. 


Mtc Boys’ All-Tournament Team 

Centauri – Mason Claunch, Baron Holman; Rye – Camden Steele, Brandon Benz; Cedaredge – Gideon Gilmore, Luke Maxey; IGNACIO – GABE TUCSON; Durango – Jasper Zastrocky, Dylan Bettin; Olathe – Garrett Walraven; Rocky Ford – Shaun Gonzales; Sargent – Antonio Martinez. 


Ignacio Boys’ Mtc Summary 

Day 1 – Ignacio 55 (Tucson 15, E.Quintana 12, D.McCaw 11), Sargent 14 (T.Paskett 6, F.Venzor/A.Garcia 3); Day 2 – Ignacio 40 (Tucson 23, E.Quintana 10, P.Quintana 7), Rye 45 (C.Steele/Bra.Benz 13, C.Donlon 8); Day 3 – Ignacio 52, Cedaredge 53. 

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