The Ignacio High School girls basketball team pulled off a shocker Friday night at home. Bobcats’ guard Charlize Valdez stole the ball and scored the game-winning basket with 12 seconds remaining to stun Class 3A No. 4 Pagosa Springs 36-35 in the regular-season finale.
Ignacio (14-5, 8-0 2A/1A San Juan Basin League) was led by Makayla Howell with 11 points, while Larissa Gallegos and Valdez each had eight. The Pirates (15-4, 9-1 3A Intermountain League) had just four players score, and were led by Haley Griego with a game-high 15 points.
“I didn’t know the time or the score, but I knew it was close,” Valdez said of her game-winning steal. “I saw she crossed over to my right, and I tipped the ball away, and she fell. I was all alone and made a layup. It was crazy, and such a good end to the game.”
Ignacio led by as many as six points in the game, and when the Bobcats trailed, it was never by more than three. Head coach Justa Whitt credited it to her team’s help-side defense.
“Our defense was phenomenal tonight,” Whitt said. “We were focusing on the back-door defense because they have two girls that are 6 feet, and they’re tough matchups. Our rotations were quick, and while we got into some foul trouble, we got through it. It felt like Pagosa was in the game because of free throws, but our defense was the difference tonight.”
IHS will have a week to prepare for the 2A District 5 tournament Friday at Montezuma-Cortez High School.
“This was so huge for us,” Whitt said. “This was the game where it all came together. Our defense was phenomenal, we played as a team and together, and I think this game will really help carry momentum into next week.”
Durango 49, Grand Junction Central 35The Durango High School girls basketball team controlled Friday night’s game against Grand Junction Central early and won 49-35 at home.
Durango (14-9, 5-3 5A/4A Southwestern League) was led by freshman Mason Rowland, who had a game-high 17 points. Emma Fitzgerald had nine on senior night, while Kyle Rowland had eight. The win capped off a season sweep over Grand Junction Central (12-11, 2-6 SWL).
“It was a great win on senior night,” said DHS head coach Tim Fitzpatrick. “I’m really proud of my seniors for their leadership this year. Lauren Park, Patrica Pena, Jael Larson and Emma Fitzgerald. They were all great.”
Durango holds the No. 14 spot in Class 4A, and will find out its playoff fate when the bracket is released on Sunday.
Boys basketballIgnacio 66, Sierra Grande 45The Ignacio High School boys basketball team also ended its regular season with a win on Friday, as the Bobcats dominated Sierra Grande in a 66-46 win on the road.
Ignacio (15-3, 9-1 San Juan Basin League) was led by Gabe Tuscon with a game-high 23 points, and he made seven 3-pointers. Brady McCaw scored 14, while Bryce Finn had 13. Sierra Grande (7-12, 5-4 1A Southern Peaks) got off to a slow start with 17 points in the first half and could not recover.
“We came out good again and got up by 17 at halftime,” said IHS head coach Chris Valdez. “It was a good way to close the regular season, but I still think we could have done better from our bench tonight. There was no focus. We’ve got to make sure to work on that because it’s crunch time, and we need everyone clicking. We now have some time to prepare for districts, and we’ll take on Telluride. That’s our only focus.”
No. 2 seed IHS will take on Telluride (7-12, 5-6 SJBL), the No. 3 seed, in the Class 2A District 3 tournament on Friday at Montezuma-Cortez High School.
Durango 43, Grand Junction Central 38The Durango High School boys basketball team got its first win in Southwestern League play in a come-from-behind 43-38 win over Grand Junction Central Friday at home.
Durango (10-13, 1-7 SWL) did not take the lead until 2:29 left when Sam Johnson scored an old-fashioned 3-point play off of a steal. The play propelled the Demons to a crucial win that will likely lock them into a Class 4A playoff spot, as the Demons hold the No. 44 RPI spot. Sam Johnson led the Demons with 12 points, Jordan Woolverton had seven, and freshman Luke Wessley played shutdown defense in the second half to steal the win.
Grand Junction Central (6-17, 2-6 SWL) led for most of the game, until the Demons stepped up their defensive intensity. DHS’ Esai Gomez and Martin Cuntz each took charges, and Johnson had two key steals in the fourth quarter. Once DHS led 38-35, the Demons would not relinquish the lead.
“It was a huge team win for us,” said DHS head coach Alan Batiste. “Sam Johnson had an all-out effort for us, and our bench stepped up big. Luke locked down their best shooter after he made four 3’s in the first half. It was a big-time win for us.”
DHS will find out its tournament fate when the 4A bracket is released on Sunday.