After years of watching his older brother, Justin Purkat, hit big shots for the Dolores High School basketball team between 2014 until 2018, senior Kevin Purkat had his chance to shine Jan. 29 and came up big during his team’s 51-48 victory over Ouray.
Among the shooting guard’s big shots during a breakout 13-point performance were two key free throws with 55 seconds left in the contest that tied the game, 48-48, and a free throw with 12.8 seconds left that gave Dolores a 49-48 lead.
“I was nervous for sure,” said Purkat, when asked about his late-game free throws. “I don’t know what was going through my head really. I was just trying to be calm, and I was thinking, ‘I want to make these.’”
Although Purkat’s clutch buckets provided the most memorable highlight during what was an exciting contest, the senior guard’s heroics would not have been possible absent a spirited comeback by the Bears after halftime.
“Our intensity was lacking in the first half,” Dolores head coach Justin Schmitt said. “We gave up second-chance points. That was something that killed us against Cortez too. When we actually run an effective defense and offense in the half court, the advantage is on our side.”
Trailing 28-19 at halftime and 30-19 early in the third quarter, the Bears were able to chip away at Ouray’s lead thanks to two key offensive rebounds and put-back layups by senior Keegan Spurlock and an off-balance layup by Hayden Tallmadge that cut Ouray’s lead to 34-31.
Although a handful of costly turnovers by Dolores allowed the Trojans to regain their composure and carry a 39-31 lead into the fourth quarter, an aggressive half-court trap by Dolores over the final 8 minutes of the contest completely changed the complexion of the game.
“We were just being more aggressive,” Purkat said. “The first half, we weren’t aggressive on defense at all. We just stepped it up, I guess. That press was really working, and we just stuck with that.”
With the game hanging in the balance in the fourth quarter, Tallmadge shouldered much of the offensive load early and consistently attacked the basket while scoring four of his team-high 16 points.
After a layup by Dolores junior Tru Seekins made the score 45-41 in favor of Ouray with just over 3:00 left, Purkat finished off a fast break with an old-fashioned three-point play to make the score 45-44.
Down 46-44 after a free throw by Ouray superstar Jack Leo, Dolores tied the game, 46-46, when Koskie junior Wyatt Koskie collected an offensive rebound and scored a layup with 1:26 to go.
Two free throws by Ouray’s Hayden Hart with 1:18 left put the Trojans ahead 48-46 before Purkat’s late-game heroics and a free throw by Koskie with four seconds left lifted Dolores to victory and brought the Dolores crowd to its feet.
Leading scorers for Dolores included Tallmadge with 16 points, Purkat with 13 points, and senior Justin Brunner with 8. Ouray was led in scoring by Leo, who netted 18 points, and Hart, who scored 10.
Now 1-1 on the year, the Bears will look ahead to their first road game of the season, which will take place against Nucla on Feb. 6.