With last week’s loss to Ignacio High School still fresh on their minds, members of the Mancos High School boys basketball team left little doubt as to their talent and resolve during a 65-37 victory over Ridgway on Jan. 25.
Among the keys to the big win was a torrid first quarter that began with an 11-0 Bluejays’ run and ended with Mancos leading 21-7. Highlighting the impressive start were several highlight reel assists by junior Christian Cova and sophomore Connor Showalter that set up teammates for wide-open layups.
“It was important for us (to start fast) because the last couple games we had been coming out slow and that kind of dictated how we played,” Cova said. “We came out fired up because we lost that one in Igancio. We were just trying to prove ourselves.”
By no means content to rest on its laurels after the fast start, Mancos continued to apply pressure throughout the second quarter and mounted a 14-2 run that included 3-point field goals by Cova and sophomore Edgar Hernandez.
A three-quarter court trap by the Bluejays also contributed to the team’s big second quarter as Connor Showalter, sophomore Evan Sehnert and Cova forced numerous turnovers by overwhelmed Ridgway guards, and Mancos carried a 39-14 lead into halftime.
“We saw on film that they couldn’t handle the pressure that well, so we tried to trap their guards,” Cova said. “We had to pressure them and make them turn the ball over.”
In command throughout most of the second half, the Bluejays moved the ball with deft efficiency in their half-court sets and ran fast breaks to perfection as helpless Ridgway players looked on and did their best to remain competitive.
On the receiving end of many of his team’s pinpoint passes was Sehnert, who drained two baseline 3-pointers early in the third quarter and attacked the paint later in the first half on his way to a game-high 18 points.
Mancos also received solid offensive performances from Connor Showalter, with 15 points; Caden Showalter, 13 points; Cova, 10 points; senior Anthony Medina, six points; and Edgar Hernandez, three points.
“Coming into this season, depth was a question mark for us after losing Vassar (Stephens) and Hunter Hoover (to graduation) and Chase Moore to wrestling,” said Mancos head coach Elijah Knepper. “Our depth has absolutely turned into one of our strengths this year. On any given night, any guy can beat you.”
With its record now at 9-3 overall and 3-1 in the San Juan Basin League, the Bluejays will look to a rivalry matchup at Dolores High School Jan. 28. Although Dolores has struggled against league opponents this season while winning just one of its five league games, Knepper emphasized that the Bears’ talented roster comprised of several smooth-shooting guards is capable of giving the Bluejays problems.
“Tuesday night, we know that when we go and play Dolores, they have great guards. That’s going to be a really difficult challenge for us. We need to just make sure that our guys know our scouting report and know what they are going to be up against.”