Though there was envy and possibly even respect mixed into their sarcastic cheers, Dolores’ junior varsity players probably shouldn’t have called down any more thunder than their higher-ups had already weathered.
Ignacio guards Clayton Jefferson and Wyatt Hayes, neither being exactly tree-toppers, probably just ignored the “Dunk it!” shouts on their many breakaways during the teams’ San Juan Basin League clash Jan. 30 inside the IHS Gymnasium. But reserve forward/center Nick Herrera was ready to put trailing Bear Kyle Biery, on a poster during a second-half sprint and spring towards the rim.
Though the try was unsuccessful, unlike many jams witnessed during warm-ups, there were still highlights to come – as in two late three-pointers by reserve forward John House, polishing off an 87-21 rout of DHS five days after a more low-key 55-31 road win at Ridgway.
“We’ve been waiting for him to score, and this was a good opportunity!” head coach Chris Valdez said. “He’s such a good shooter… can really shoot the ball when he’s open. And he gets open … kind of unorthodox, but he can finish.”
With Jefferson scoring five points in the first quarter and senior Kelton Richmond seven, helping create an 18-4 advantage, the outcome was never in doubt. The No. 1 ranked Bobcats (12-0, 4-0 SJBL) canned a total of 10 treys, with nine individuals connecting – a scary thought for tonight’s unlucky opponent, Nucla, to ponder – and all 12 of Valdez’s men scored at least two points.
“We came out sluggish,” he said, “but the kids recovered. They got aggressive defensively and that’s what kind of took off. We were 5-for-18 from the three-point line in the first half – wasn’t good – but our shooting came around in the second half and I thought we moved the ball throughout the game well.”
Jefferson finished with 15 to lead the attack Richmond totaled 13 and Herrera 10. Senior Bo Ward notched nine, Adison Jones and Justin Carver each posted seven and House had his six. Hayes, Sam Corrado and Anthony Manzanares each chipped in five, Tucker Ward had three and Xavier Reynolds two.
Guard Jackson Vermeule and forward Ben Lykins each scored five to lead Dolores (now 4-9, 3-5). Biery had four, Mikeal Ford a game-ending three, and J.T. Kotarski and Cody Cable each had two points.
“We’ve got to play better, but there’s not much you can do in a game like that,” Valdez said. “But we’re going to play our starters more, even if it’s a blowout; we’ve got to start getting ready for playoffs and making sure they’ve got the time and they’re getting used to playing … a game. Whether pressing or not, we’ve got to have them out there a little more often, got to get our rotations a little better.”
After traveling to face NHS, Ignacio will return to host Ouray on Feb. 8 in more SJBL action, then will welcome 3A Bayfield on Feb. 11 in what should be an exciting encounter.