Four minutes, 54 seconds remained before halftime when Mancos Coach Rodney Cox slammed his hands together and shouted "Timeout!"
It was about as loud as any coach could without being rendered inaudible by the roaring Ignacio fan base jamming Montezuma-Cortez's gymnasium on Saturday. Not overly critical of his Blue Jays' effort in the 2A-District 3 Tournament's finale against the top-seeded team-the Bobcats had only led 11-10 after one quarter-he just wasn't in a mood to watch the latest rerun of IHS' equivalent of 'Lethal Weapon 2.'
As in No. 2, junior Wyatt Hayes.
Hayes' back-to-back treys from nearly 10 feet past the three-point line ripped open what had been a 15-12 contest and definitively put Ignacio on track towards its eighth straight district-level championship, 59 to 39.
"It's just been good that he got hot," junior center Nick Herrera said of his sharpshooting teammate, who totaled 10 triples and 41 points against MHS and Ridgway in the event's semifinals. "Stepped it up and gave us the energy, the intensity for the push to finish the games."
He continued: "It's just a big honor to win it eight times in a row. And just keep going on.see how far we can make it!
Prior to districts, the Bobcats had a 35-point home win versus Norwood on Feb. 20 and a 22-point triumph at Telluride on Feb. 21 to win another San Juan Basin League crown.
In district play on Feb. 27 the Bobcat boys first faced Ridgway and immediately burned the Demons for an incredible, unanswered 18 points.
The Cats finished the first quarter 29-7. Senior forward Adison Jones, who'd netted six points in the first, kept his foot on the gas in the second, booking seven of Ignacio's next 18 as the tourney's 1-seed coasted into halftime, up 47-19.
Primarily against Coach Chris Valdez's second team, Ridgway won the fourth quarter 16-7, helped by 9-of-9 foul-line accuracy and a Saville three.
But in the end, IHS advanced to the next afternoon's title game via a 66-49 conquest. Jones led the way with 16 points, and Hayes landed his weekend's first five bombs for his 15. Junior guard Tucker Ward reached double figures with 10, Anthony Manzanares ended up with nine and Herrera eight.
Meeting Mancos for a third time this winter, Ignacio knew they might be in for a fight.
Herrera, celebrating his 17th birthday, won the opening tip and soon dropped in his first bucket, and even after Hayes' first long-range strike-putting the 'Cats up 9-3-the second-seed squad rallied to close the gap to just a point, 11-10 after an exciting first quarter on the neutral court.
But after Hayes-who also booked 10 steals, five assists and four rebounds-truly went ballistic with the aforementioned missiles, Jones coldly swished a three after Cox's chat and Ignacio had a 30-21 lead at intermission.
Believing his side was in contention, however, Mancos senior forward Daniel Christensen tried establishing a team attitude in the second half with a harsh, two-handed slap of the floor as Jones brought the ball to the top of the key.
The move backfired; Jones (who snared 11 boards) rattled in a triple just seconds later, and with Hayes netting another seven points-en route to a tournament-best 26-the Bobcats won the period 17 to 7 and went into the fourth quarter cruising, 47-28.
"I thought we played hard. Our defense.stifled them-to hold a team to less than 10 points a quarter, that was a fantastic job," Valdez said. "And I thought where they hurt us-in the post-the last time we played.we changed that up and they didn't hurt us, as much."
Jones finished with nine as IHS improved to 19-2 overall. Herrera and Manzanares each totaled eight, Ward had six and freshman reserve guard Kruz Pardo, who'd drilled one of the bench's (sophomore Joaquin King hit the other) threes in the rout of Ridgway, two.
"It's hard to gauge," Valdez said, of the program's lengthy streak of success in the postseason's first phase. "You go in the locker room, and our players are used to winning district titles-there's not any real excitement, there's no jumping up and down and crying.they're used to winning. And when we don't win, that's a front-page headline."
Up next will be the do-or-don't challenges of the Region III Tournament, to be staged at multiple sites in Grand Junction rather than at nearby Durango High School as in seasons past. The 'Cats will clash with District 5 winners Hotchkiss first at 4:30 p.m. today with the winner advancing to face either Oak Creek Soroco or Paonia on Saturday.
"We're just going to try to go and defend, cover the three, pound into the post.get it going!" said Herrera.
"When you win.it seems like another day at the office for these kids," Valdez said. "They're so humble and happy to play together. And maybe they're saving all that emotion.to celebrate something at a later time!"