Often able to turn a defender the opposite direction via a well-directed or ball-fake, leaving him with an unguarded three-point look, Ignacio guard Lawrence Valdez noted it wasn't easy for himself - or the Bobcats as a whole - to follow the boss's instructions to slow things down during the Nov. 30 season-opener once the going got great.
"If I felt like I was far enough away, I was going to take the shot. But if he was right there I was going to give it up," Valdez said afterwards, still grinning over his side's sterling shooting. "I kind of went off instinct."
Which meant Ignacio's collective killer instinct.
And visiting Dove Creek was just in the wrong place at about the worst possible time.
Led by senior center/forward Kai Roubideaux's three three-pointers in the 2017-18 slate's very first quarter, IHS cashed an incendiary 14 shots from downtown in overwhelming the Bulldogs 94-21 in 2A/1A San Juan Basin League action. One of the treys was on the Bobcats' first shot.
"We wanted to, just right away ignite, get our season rolling!" senior guard Johnny Valdez said. "We wanted to make a statement that we're still 'here' in this league, really wanting to win this league, and it was just a great effort by everybody."
"We wanted to come together and play 'team' basketball and I think we did that today, with a lot of assists, a lot of steals and a lot of ball movement."
And more than anything, the last of those group-oriented aspects was what longtime head coach Chris Valdez wanted to see when the score grew more and more lopsided. But finding an open man usually resulted in long-range chances too delicious not to taste, particularly during the initial eight minutes.
Back-to-back treys by Johnny Valdez and Lawrence Valdez increased Ignacio's lead to 11-0, forcing DCHS to take a timeout with 5:59 still left. Senior guard Cole McCaw, however, resumed play with another three, and the onslaught reached 26-0 when Roubideaux drained another triple after Lawrence Valdez saved the ball from going out of bounds with 3:00 remaining.
The 'Dogs (0-1, 0-1 SJBL) finally got on the board with 2:42 left via a close-range shot by freshman Hayden Gray, but with Roubideaux totaling 11 points in the frame, Johnny Valdez eight, Lawrence Valdez seven, McCaw three and sophomore forward Ocean Hunter five, the guests were already all but buried, trailing 34 to 4.
"I thought the kids played well, shared the ball, and there was no selfish play out there," said Chris Valdez.
"You know, I'm glad they came out and hit some shots early, because it's kind of hard if you come out and miss a few; it kind of gets contagious," he continued. "But if you hit a few it gets contagious also, so we just got on a roll - we were shooting 80, 85 percent - and shot the lights out."
Coming off the bench, senior guard Daniel Weaver began the second quarter with IHS' eighth three-ball, and McCaw followed with the ninth just seconds later. With Roubideaux enjoying a well-deserved break, fans were treated to see young post Dylan Labarthe step in and book his first three points, and reserve guard Keegan Schurman knocked down the squad's 10th trey as the locals' lead increased to 54-12 at halftime.
"Those guys are working really hard. That's why they're on the varsity, and we're really trying to develop them," Johnny Valdez said of Ignacio's reserves, which outscored their counterparts 27-7. "They've been giving us good minutes so far, so hopefully we can keep them coming into the game and learning varsity basketball."
Hunter began the second half with a steal and layup, and after the third quarter ended with Ignacio up 83-16, the final frame featured one last three-pointer (Weaver), six points from freshman forward Bryce Finn, as well as two near-dunks in transition by Labarthe before time mercifully expired.
"I think it went pretty great, honestly," said Lawrence Valdez, who totaled a team-leading 19 points. "We talked about that we just need to play calm basketball when we came out, and that's what we did. We made shots when we were open, made the extra passes when we needed 'em, and we just worked together.got the 'dub.'"
"There was not a lot of pressure defense by them, and you know, they're a young team too," Chris Valdez said. "But they kept working, played hard the whole game and you've got to take your hat off to them for that."
Roubideaux finished with 13 points for IHS (1-0, 1-0 SJBL), which came in at #10 in the preseason CHSAANow.com Class 2A poll. Hunter registered an impressive 15 and Johnny Valdez 12, with McCaw and Schurman each booking eight. Labarthe totaled seven points, and Weaver matched Finn's half-dozen.
Ignacio finished 8-of-11 at the free-throw line, with Hunter going 1-1, Labarthe 3-4 and Finn 4-6.
Up next for the Bobcats will be a Dec. 12 trip to Dolores, followed by an appearance at the Dec. 15-16 Montezuma-Cortez "Rumble in 'The Jungle,'" with Mancos then visiting IHS Gymnasium on the Dec. 19 to wrap up the Old Year.
CHSAANOW.COM 2A BOYS' BASKETBALL PRESEASON POLL (released 11/27): 1.Julesburg-Ovid Revere Sedgwick County, 2.Holyoke, 3.Del Norte, 4.Ault Highland, 5.Paonia, 6.Fowler, 7.Sanford, 8.Akron, 9.Ordway Crowley County, 10.IGNACIO.