Bobcat boys looking for 4-0 start to season

The Ignacio boys celebrate their first-place, 2-for-2 showing at the season-opening Dec. 6-7 Limon Invitational.
Ignacio’s Ocean Hunter (32) blasts through the lane en route to a basket Dec. 10 at Dolores.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

IHS to end Old Year slate at 3A Cedaredge

The day he officially became an adult, Ignacio guard Keegan Schurman displayed the sort of leadership expected of him by the boss in helping the Bobcats, at the time ranked No. 10 in the Class 2A poll, stun third-ranked Limon and clinch the LHS Invitational championship.

“It was his birthday, his 18th birthday, today,” grinned head coach Chris Valdez, following the 62-54 upset Saturday evening, Dec. 7, out in distant Lincoln County. “And … the team had voted captains yesterday: Bryce (Finn) and Keegan.”

“Got his head down a few times, but I sat him down … straightened him out,” he continued. “He is a different player. Worked harder than anyone on the team all through practice; he’s a different person.”

Able to score if needed, but seemingly just as content to defer to more familiar point-producers such as guard Triston Thompson, forward/center Ocean Hunter or the aforementioned co-captain, the senior then helped the ’Cats claim victory fairly easily in their 2A/1A San Juan Basin League opener at Dolores three nights later.

“Getting open looks even though he wasn’t making too many – it’s just always about everybody getting open looks. Doesn’t matter who scores the ball,” said Finn, who paced IHS against Limon with 16 points, but who then played a supporting role, booking just four points, in a 49-22 defeat of DHS.

“It was Brady hitting a couple, Triston hitting a few … . We’re always looking to move the ball, penetrate and kick, and get open shots,” he said, alluding to the scoring leaders – Brady McCaw and Thompson, who each booked 12 points – against the toothless Bears, adjusting to life without graduated all-around threat Tristen Swagerty.

Following up on a solid 15-point effort against LHS, boasting 6’5” senior Logan Marx and 6’5” junior Alex Carr, Hunter again reached double figures with ten against Dolores, while junior forward Dylan Labarthe, summoned to aid Hunter and others in limiting the loaded Badgers’ posts – Carr, Marx and 6’3” junior John Jaklich totaled a combined six points – logged seven points at DHS.

“We were real excited; everybody was hyped in the locker room,” Finn said. “We had a lot of momentum coming into here; we knew we’re a great team.”

Off to a 3-0 (a season-opening 70-43 rout of Colorado Springs School on Day 1 of the Invitational included) overall start to the 2019-20 campaign, Valdez hopes that ‘great team’ mentality won’t disappear even against overwhelmed opposition such as the Bears – who managed to play the ’Cats to a 23-18 second half, after falling behind 26-4 at intermission and appearing unable to recover from a game-starting 10:28 scoring drought during which Ignacio built a 20-0 lead.

En route to a team-high ten points, DHS junior Keagan Ertel-Moralez finally drove in for a shutout-snapping layup with 5:32 remaining before halftime.

“Our defense is horrible right now, as far as I’m concerned,” said Valdez. “That is where our problems are, and we’re going to work our tails off to try to get better. We don’t stop here; we’ve got to build on this for the future.”

“Just getting the bugs out,” Finn said.

Denied a Dec. 12 engagement with 4A Kirtland, N.M., Central due to a scheduling snafu, the Bobcats will now wrap up the Old Year traveling to 3A Cedaredge on Saturday, Dec. 21. Standing 2-2 prior to hosting La Jara-based 3A Centauri (6-0) the night before, the Bruins conquered IHS Gymnasium last year by a 58-46 margin.

“Defensively I thought we held our own, especially in the first half before we kind of got tired,” Valdez said. “Other than that, we didn’t have a chance to run our offense much at all; we were turning the ball over before we’d get down the floor.”

“So, getting our point guard, Brady … to calm everybody down and run a play … will help that.”

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