Hoping to make a statement against longtime San Juan Basin League power Ignacio High School, the Mancos High School girls’ basketball team trotted onto their home court Tuesday to put their skills to the test.
Unfortunately for the Bluejays, however, those skills fell short as Ignacio built a 30-10 halftime lead before coasting to a 48-25 victory in front of a small contingency of masked fans in Mancos High School’s newly renovated historic gym.
Leading scorers for Ignacio included senior Avaleena Nanaeto, who scored 13 points, senior Charlize Valdez, who scored 12 points and sophomore Laci Brunson, who hit a 3-point field goal and netted nine points.
While the opening four minutes of the contest were hotly contested, Ignacio’s pressure defense and relentless transition attack quickly took a toll on a Bluejays team that had yet to face such a speedy opponent this season.
After building a 14-4 lead by the end of the opening quarter, Ignacio continued to pour it on in the second thanks to Nanaeto and Shelcie Gosney, who both scored four points during a decisive run that ended with the Bobcats leading 30-10 heading into the halftime break.
“(Ignacio) is definitely fast and they shoot the ball really well,” Mancos freshman Teya Yeomans said. “They have played a lot together and they click together really well, which puts them at an advantage.”
As the second half got underway and the Bobcats continued to pressure and trap the ball, the Bluejays offense faltered as several players fired ill-advised passes into the hands of waiting Ignacio defenders.
Among the lone bright spots for the Bluejays during the second half was the play of senior Madi Hale, who scored eight of her game-high 14 points in the third quarter and did everything in her power to keep her team close.
“Ignacio has always been a rival to us, and as a freshman coming onto the Mancos team, they are a team that we know that we can beat,” Yeomans said. “We have confidence, but when something goes wrong, we pull apart. We just need to pick ourselves up and play our game.”
Ignacio players exchanged high fives and handshakes following the contest before retreating to their locker room to prepare for a long trip home and the rest of the upcoming week, which will include home games against Pagosa Springs, Sargent and Telluride.
For Mancos, the upcoming days will provide a chance to regroup in anticipation of a road matchup against rival Dolores High School, which will take place Friday.
“I think we need to work on playing our game and turning the ball over less,” Yeomans said. “We’re playing some tough games. We need to come with intensity and come out ready to win. We have a strong team and we have the ability to win.”