Post play pushes Lady ’Cats to first win

Ignacio’s Avaleena Nanaeto fights Sanford’s Riley Canty (20) for a loose ball during season-opening road action Sat., Jan. 30. Ranked No. 7 in the preseason CHSAANow.com Class 2A poll going in, the injury-wracked Lady ’Cats fell 51-41 to then-No. 3 SHS.
Ignacio’s Charlize Valdez (24) fires a long jumper over Sanford’s Makenzie Reynolds (11) and others during season-opening road action Sat., Jan. 30. Ranked No. 7 in the preseason CHSAANow.com Class 2A poll going in, the injury-wracked Lady ’Cats fell 51-41 to then-No. 3 SHS.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

IHS girls hold off Bayfield 38-28

With two key pieces already missing from her team’s puzzle, Ignacio Girls Basketball head coach Justa Whitt was elated – if not even more so relieved – Friday night, Feb. 5, that she’d regained one lost last winter.

“You know, it’s so hard to tell what the kids have been doing when we weren’t able to do anything,” she said, alluding to gymnasium practice/conditioning time stolen from the Lady ’Cats by the global COVID-19 pandemic. “So, she really showed that she’s been doing a lot of work – and came into the season ready to play, finish her senior year strong.”

And, when outside shots stopped falling, finish strong IHS’ 2020-21 home opener.

With visiting Bayfield closing to as close as six points, 34-28, with 2:33 left in regulation via a Cayanne Carlson free throw, center/forward Shelcie Gosney became Whitt’s go-to scoring option with guards Jayden Brunson, Charlize Valdez and Avaleena Nanaeto assigned mainly ball – and, most importantly, clock – control.

Finishing with a game-high 14 points, Gosney clinched Ignacio a 10-point victory with two low-post baskets despite resistance from Lady Wolverine junior Abby Tate in a 1-on-1 matchup which became more crucial as the contest progressed.

“She’s a good player, too,” Gosney conceded. “I mean, I’ve fought with pretty big girls before and I feel like I held my ground. I feel like Bayfield thought they might have had a little bit of a chance, but we got through it … and worked as a team.”

“We stayed calm and really thought more clearly today about plays,” said Tate, who logged six points as the guests improbably whittled down a game-starting 17-0 deficit to give themselves a chance at their first win in four tries. “We played together really well, and we’re SO close … .”

Brunson sank three three-pointers and totaled 12 points, but only Valdez (5 points) was close to joining her two ’mates in double figures. Nanaeto finished with three points, while sophomore guard Laci Brunson and freshman forward Solymar Cosio each chipped in two. Freshman Maci Barnes, who’d booked ten points in the junior varsity’s 27-11 win, was called up and, though scoreless, contributed vital on-court minutes to help rest the regulars.

“Bless ’em, they’re doing great,” Whitt said. “We don’t have the same kind of teaching time; it’s hard to get them up to speed. So, I’m proud of the couple freshmen that got in there, filled in spots that needed to be filled. They’re improving daily, so I expect to see more out of them as we go.”

“Those girls that came off the bench from JV did an amazing job,” said Gosney, “and I feel like we did a great job tonight. It was a big confidence-booster for us.”

Almost a full week removed from a season-opening 51-41 loss at non-league Sanford – at the time ranked No. 3 in the preseason CHSAANow.com Class 2A poll; IHS checked in at No. 7 – the Lady ’Cats blanked BHS for the first 6:53 inside IHS Gymnasium until Carlson (10 points) put in a breakaway layup. Senior Rachel Kirk later netted her first two points with 0:03.6 left in the first quarter, but Ignacio still entered the second leading 17-4.

A brief 6-0 burst – via breakaways by Carlson and Tate, then a Carlson layup resulting from an Ellie Tate steal – brought Bayfield back to 22-12, indicating the Lady Wolverines (0-4, 0-1 3A Intermountain) weren’t about to wilt, but Ignacio (1-1, 0-0 2A/1A San Juan Basin) answered with two Gosney buckets to coast into intermission up 14.

“Honestly if we were able to keep them out of the paint just a little better, it might have swung the game all the way for us,” Bayfield head coach Josh Kitchen said. “But Gosney, to her credit, made a few shots I didn’t think she’d make! So it was a nice battle to see; I was proud of Abby and how hard she played.”

“There towards the end we kind of got a little slow,” said Gosney, “but we picked ourselves up and fought through.”

“Sure the ‘Shelcie factor’ was great, but you know … we definitely are trying to regroup after the loss of two of our top players,” Whitt said, alluding to senior guard Ebonee Gomez and junior guard Monika Lucero, victims of season-jeopardizing ankle injuries during the first quarter (Gomez only 21 ticks in; Lucero with 28.8 left) at SHS. “And I can’t say that this was a ‘great’ game, but we got through it.”

Ignacio will next resume SJBL play traveling to Ouray on Fri., Feb. 12, for a 4:30 p.m. start, and then continue circuit work at Mancos on the 16th before pausing to host 3A power Pagosa Springs on the 18th and non-league 2A Sargent the next evening. Results from the Lady Bobcats’ 2/9 home league game versus Dolores were unavailable at press time.

HAPPY TO BE BACK

Having made her season debut with four points and three fouls against Sanford, Gosney admitted she was relieved to not only be playing after nearly a year off, but even putting weight on a rebuilt left knee.

“My fourth game into my junior year, we were playing against Cedaredge. Two girls went up for a rebound, and they hit into me … and I felt the ‘pop,’” she recalled. “I went to several doctors and they told me to just go through two months of PT, and I was like, ‘Okay!’ Then in districts I played one game and was fine, but the second game I went down.”

“I had a partial [ACL tear], and then I fully tore it,” she continued. “Same knee, very painful … . So in March [2020] I got my surgery, and now I’m back at it!”

“She’d really been working to get that knee better,” said Whitt. “It’s nice to see her again doing what she does.”

 

CHSAANOW.com Class 2A Girls’ Basketball Rankings

(As of Feb. 8, 2021)

  1. Rye
  2. Sanford
  3. Holyoke
  4. Wray
  5. Cedaredge
  6. Rocky Ford
  7. Limon
  8. Fort Collins Heritage Christian
  9. Oak Creek Soroco
  10. Lotus School for Excellence
  11. Paonia
  12. IGNACIO
  13. Sedgwick County
  14. Del Norte
  15. Peyton

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