Cats cop tenth straight district-level title

Led by Calvin Levato and Ocean Hunter at near right, the Ignacio Bobcats begin celebrating their 2A-District 3 Tournament championship win, 45-44 over Telluride, at Montezuma-Cortez H.S.
Ignacio’s Calvin Levato (10) goes the hard way for a shot against Telluride’s Andrew Denny (22) during the 2A-District 3 Tournament championship game at Montezuma-Cortez H.S.
Ignacio’s Kai Roubideaux (44) gets fouled on a rebound by Telluride’s Jordan Williams (23) during the 2A-District 3 Tournament championship game at Montezuma-Cortez H.S.
Perched atop teammate Daniel Weaver’s shoulders, Ignacio’s Lawrence Valdez (11) receives special recognition from his teammates after hitting the game-winning shot versus Telluride inside the last ten seconds of the 2A-District 3 Tournament championship – played at Montezuma-Cortez H.S.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

IHS boys slip past T-ride in Cortez, 45-44

Consider the San Juan Basin League rivalry between Telluride and Ignacio resurrected.

And consider the Miners still wondering ‘What will it take?’ to trip up the loop’s perennial heavyweight.

Able to regain the upper hand on the Bobcats, 44-42, in the 2A-District 3 Tournament’s championship game (Sat., Feb. 25) via two free throws by senior anchor Andrew Denny with 0:49 left, THS’ players and fans were left in disbelief when IHS sophomore Lawrence Valdez stole the show 42 ticks later.

Taking a return pass on the left wing from junior Kai Roubideaux, himself unable to find an open shot closer to the rim after Valdez fed the ball into the post, Valdez used the backboard to bank in the go-ahead three-pointer—which ultimately secured victory inside Montezuma-Cortez H.S. Gymnasium, 45-44.

“Kai was doing as much as he could,” recalled Valdez, carried off the court on teammate Daniel Weaver’s shoulders after his only make in the game. “I tried to get it to him to get a shot, he passed it to me and I took mine.”

“I’ve just always wanted to make one of those type of shots to help my team make it to the end.”

“Valdez hit a clutch shot! Just wobbled in there, you know?” joked head coach Chris Valdez. “But that’s what the game’s all about; anybody can win on any given shot! We had the opportunity and took advantage of it.”

Telluride did precisely that during the first quarter, taking Ignacio to task to the tune of 16-14 after eight minutes of welcome action, but the ’Cats fought back to take a 25-20 lead back into the locker room.

“We weren’t really playing together. We were not making our shots, weren’t running our plays right,” Lawrence Valdez said. “Once we started doing that it was starting to work out. But it was kind of rough throughout the whole game.”

Offsetting a three-pointer by Miner junior Reed Schacht, senior Joaquin King’s third long-range connection in the contest put IHS (15-6) up 35-27 with 4:06 left in the third quarter, which ended with Ignacio up 37-31.

Sophomore Clay Seibel (seven points) sank a triple starting the fourth, and junior Johnny Valdez (ten) followed with a closer two-pointer, but Schacht’s third trey ignited a dynamite Miners rally. His fourth shot from deep sliced Ignacio’s advantage all the way down to 42-41, and senior Jordan Williams then tied the game with a free throw and 3:24 remaining.

“We got a ten-point lead like we wanted, but never could build on it. We missed a few shots, made some mistakes, turned the ball over – little things like that – and we gave them too many second-chance opportunities…something we were trying not to give them,” said Chris Valdez.

With each side electing to milk the clock for all it was worth on each subsequent possession, a Roubideaux rejection with 1:41 left kept the score even as the Bobcats sought to follow up on the previous night’s 61-32 semifinal destruction of Dolores.

After an IHS timeout – preceding Denny’s clutch charity chucks – Johnny Valdez missed a makeable up-and-under reverse layup and Schacht (said to originally hail from the Charlotte, North Carolina, area) was fouled on the rebound. But Schacht, who would be the last Miner to leave the locker room when all was said and done, missed both of the ensuing FT’s which would have made for a daunting two-possession lead.

“They played a great game. They really did,” Chris Valdez stated.

Junior Cole McCaw equaled Johnny Valdez’s ten points for a share of the team-high as the Cats won an incredible tenth consecutive district-level title. King finished with nine points and Ocean Hunter, Calvin Levato and Roubideaux each chipped in two.

“Our coach told us that it might have not happened ever in Colorado,” said Lawrence Valdez, of IHS’ unique postseason streak. “And … that I made ‘that’ shot to seal it was big for me.”

Schacht (0-5 FT) and Denny each finished with a game-best 12 points for THS (12-8). Senior Rye Livermore scrapped hard for his ten, Williams finished with eight and Jackson Pettinos two.

Up next, on Saturday, March 4, IHS will play the previous day’s Hotchkiss-Del Norte winner at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison for the 2A-West Region, Pod G title and berth into the State Tournament’s ‘Great Eight’ at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland. Tipoff time at WSCU is slated for 2:30 p.m.

IN THE DISTRICT SEMIFINAL

Erupting for five threes and 29 points in the third quarter, the Bobcats went into the home stretch versus DHS leading 58-26. Johnny Valdez logged a team-best 14 points, Levato followed with 11 and McCaw and Lawrence Valdez each scored eight.

Tristen Swaggerty led the Bears with a game-high 21 points, but only Justin Purkat, with five, was anywhere close. Dakota ‘D.K.’ Smith had four points and Brennan Hite two, to round out Dolores’ scoring.

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