MANCOS – There’s a whole different level of confidence surrounding the Mancos girls basketball program.
It all started with the end of last campaign, when the Jays picked up victories in six of their final nine outings, en route to an appearance in the 2A regional tournament. Now, Mancos steps to the floor with the focus of a team that expects to win, and the ability to play with any team in the region.
The proof is in the pudding – the Jays have routed their last three opponents – scoring over 40 points in each contest, while limiting their opponents to under 20. In their most recent outing, Mancos overcame a slow start to overpower Ouray, 48-15, a team that had beaten Mancos a year ago.
It’s the second such opponent this season that Mancos has turned around emphatic defeats from 12 months prior. The Bluejays had lost to Bayfield by over 30 last year, only to return the favor against the Wolverines in 2021.
In the process, Mancos has collected a 3-1 start to the season, with their only loss coming against state-ranked Sanford. The last time the Jays had this record through four games, most of their current players had just graduated from elementary school.
Third-year head coach Kerri Morgan has taken a team that is full of senior leadership, added some young talent, and instilled the squad with a controlled-aggressiveness that makes them both tenacious defensively, and opportunistic at the offensive end.
Senior Madi Hale, who will be on the short list for District Player of the Year at the end of the season, now has various other scoring options, which allows her the flexibility to threaten defenses from various places on the floor. Freshman Teya Yeomans and senior Americus Romero-Keller have taken on the interior, which allows Hale to exploit mismatches at other spots on the floor.
In their matinee outing against Ouray (1-3), Mancos failed to cash in on early opportunities, while dominating the offensive glass. The Trojans took advantage, hanging around after eight minutes, trailing 10-8.
For a few minutes into the second quarter, it appeared that lid might just stay over the Mancos rim all afternoon. Ouray closed to within 15-14 on a three-point play from junior Aynsleigh Wood.
Cue a 33-0 run for Mancos. Even with all of their early troubles, the Jays finally got the offense in gear midway through the second quarter, tallying the final 13 points of the half and effectively deflating any belief from Ouray that they would hang close with Mancos.
Junior Rhiley Montoya and freshman Quincy Montoya engineered the decisive run, as Mancos started to cash in on their superiority on the glass. In one sequence late in the second quarter, the Jays collected eight consecutive offensive rebounds before Hale scored on her team’s ninth try of the possession. Meanwhile, the duo poured in a combined 18 points, including a pair of back-breaking threes, to expand the lead to 28-14 at the half.
In the second half, the Jays gave up a solitary free throw, while Hale and Romero-Keller cleaned up around the rim, with Hale accounting for 12 points, while her classmate added six.
Senior captain Tia Imel joined fellow senior Lizzy Mee and Yeomans with four points apiece, as seven different Jays entered the score column in the victory.
Meanwhile, writing another chapter in the history of Mancos basketball ranks highly amongst a balanced Bluejays squad. The Jays have the opportunity to collect the program’s first winning season since the ’08-’09 campaign. Likewise, Mancos hopes to figure prominently into the district title chase, as the Bluejays seek to disrupt Ignacio’s recent control over the 2A San Juan Basin League.
Mancos will get their first chance to face the Bobcats on Tuesday, Feb. 16, but have a second meeting with Telluride a few days prior, when they hit the road for the first time this season to take on the Miners on Friday, Feb. 12.