It didn't exactly surprise either Ignacio or Dove Creek that their Nov. 30 season-opener inside IHS Gymnasium began with each side throwing the ball out of play multiple times, and the home team taking an early 4-0 lead in the 'fouls' category.
"At the beginning it was kind of rough," agreed Ignacio sophomore forward Larissa Gallegos. "It was our first time playing a real game, and I definitely think that over time - like, the second and third quarter - we really got together and played well. Finally got the rhythm going."
"We came out to a really slow start-it took four minutes for both teams to score-you know; I think the early jitters of playing their first game got to them," agreed IHS head coach Trae Seibel. "But we shook it off; we were able to call some timeouts, come back and play Bobcat basketball: Aggressive, tenacious, not getting beat."
Sparked by a three-pointer courtesy last year's top gun, now-senior Avionne Gomez, with 4:51 left in the scoreless first quarter, the 'Catsbuilt their advantage up to 11-1 via two Gallegos free throws with 1:20 remaining. The girls went into the second quarter up 14-1 after Gomez fed freshman reserve post Shelcie Gosney for an and-one (which Gosney converted) basket with just 1.7 ticks left on the clock. The Bobcats are ranked #9 in the preseason CHSAANow.com Class 2A girls' poll.
Gallegos got the second quarter going with an inside basket from sophomore Makayla Howell, and Gomez promptly followed with another trey. She totalled seven points in the quarter, and Gallegos did likewise as Ignacio went into halftime in full control, 33-10, before running away with a 65-19 victory.
"These ladies, we're training them to read and react," Seibel said. "It's not about coaches dictating every single play and where the basketball needs to go; it's these ladies being trained in practice to see the defense. So when we get into that fast break, the ladies are just, seeing exactly the open spot, to get a high-percentage shot."
"After halftime, Coach gave us a little talk and told us what we were doing wrong," Gallegos said. "We got our stuff together and pulled it into a good game. It was getting intense, and I was getting hyped. It was just a really good night."
Gomez (20 points) began the second half with her third of four triples, and the third quarter ended with the 'Cats (1-0, 1-0 2A/1A San Juan Basin League) up 57-11 after a long jumper by freshman reserve guard Jayden Brunson. In fact, out of 11 players Seibel utilized (sophomore center/forward Morgan Herrera did not play), nine netted at least a point for the cause.
Gosney finished with seven points to pace the bench brigade, Brunson booked six (all in the third), senior Sidney Cox scored two and senior Allisianna Baker one. Going 6-of-8 from the free-throw line, Gallegos totaled 18 points, while Howell registered a first-half six. Freshmen Charlize Valdez and Ebonee Gomez also received starting-lineup spots, with the former scoring one point in her varsity debut and the latter four.
"You know we can have a tremendous starting five, tremendous six players that can play the game, but if we don't have a bench full of players that can, we're not in good shape," said Seibel, whose staff includes former IHS standout A.J. Vigil, Chris Herrera and predecessor/father Shane Seibel.
"But I think we've got some bench players that can contribute to this team, and I've said it before, probably 10 times: The best player on this team IS the team. And for them to buy into that concept, every single day they come to work, is key."
Sophomore Cassie Gatlin led DCHS (0-1, 0-1) with seven points, including one of the Bulldogs' two three-pointers.
The 'Cats will next compete at the Dec. 9 Montezuma-Cortez "Rumble in 'The Jungle." They resume SJBL play at Dolores on Tuesday, Dec. 12, and then host Mancos on Tuesday, Dec. 19 to wrap up the 2017 side of their schedule.
CHSAANOW.COM 2A GIRLS' BASKETBALL PRESEASON POLL (released 11/27): 1.Yuma, 2.Del Norte, 3.Wray, 4.Swink, 5.Paonia, 6.Haxtun, 7.Limon, 8.Simla, 9.IGNACIO, 10.Lyons.