Less than 24 hours after picking up an impressive win over Sanford High School, the Mancos High School boys basketball team showed few signs of fatigue during an impressive 59-52 home victory over Bayfield High School on Jan. 30.
Leading the way for the Bluejays in the big win were juniors Connor Showalter and Evan Sehnert, who scored 20 points and 19 points, respectively, and hit several big shots during a decisive fourth quarter that saw Mancos outscore Bayfield 20-14.
“We decided to share the ball a whole lot more and not be selfish and take the easier shots,” Sehnert said. “I thought that throughout the first half, we were taking the first shot that came. In the second half, we realized that the more we passed it, the easier the shots would get.”
Before the fourth quarter, the game was hotly contested as players on both sides put their bodies on the line while diving for loose balls and showing the hustle and heart that figures to carry them far this season.
After the Bluejays began the game on a 7-0 run with a suffocating 1-3-1 zone defense and buckets by Sehnert, Showalter and senior Christian Cova, Bayfield found its rhythm and eventually the gap to 13-12 when Crosby Edwards drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
Nifty shots by both teams in the following minutes made the score 17-16 in favor of Mancos with under a minute to go in the opening quarter before a long 3-pointer by Showalter just before the buzzer gave Mancos a 20-16 lead.
As the second quarter got underway, Bayfield’s man-to-man defense temporarily stymied the Bluejays offense and allowed the Wolverines to take their first lead of the game after Edwards drained a 3-pointer midway through the quarter.
Two 3-pointers by Mancos freshman Kail Wayman late in the second quarter allowed the Bluejays to regain the lead, however, as Mancos moved ahead 31-30 heading into the halftime break.
As the second half got underway and momentum hung in the balance, Mancos and Bayfield exchanged hoops in spite of solid defense by both sides that limited total combined scoring by both teams during the third quarter to 17 points.
Ahead 39-38 heading into the final 8 minutes of play, Mancos opened the quarter on a high note thanks to an old fashioned 3-point play by junior Edgar Hernandez that came after an aggressive drive to the basket and an athletic finish over two Bayfield players.
Showing the type of resilience that has made them one of the Intermountain League’s top teams during the past five years, Bayfield clawed its way back and took a 45-42 lead with just over 6 minutes left in the contest when Brecken Espinoza drained a 3-pointer from the left wing.
“Our kids played hard,” Mancos head coach Bob Archibeque said. “Last night, we emptied the tank against a really good (Sanford) team, and we came out ahead. I knew coming in that we had very little left. To play the way we did against (Bayfield), which has a lot of seniors, says a lot about our team.”
In addition to Showalter and Sehnert’s contributions on the offensive end, Mancos benefited from eight points from Cova, six points from Wayman and six points from Hernandez. Bayfield was led offensively by Landon Kennedy, who netted 16 points, and Crosby Edwards, who scored 12.
Now 2-0 on the season, Mancos High School will return to practice Monday before returning to its home court on Feb. 2 for a game against Telluride. Bayfield will carry an 0-2 record into the Ignacio Tournament on Feb. 5.
“I think that our outside shooting can improve,” Showalter said. “We seem to get a lot of open 3’s and being able to hit those will open things up a bit.”