Knowing how limited his team would be, personnel-wise, prior to last weekend's Southwest Colorado Classic in Bayfield, Ignacio head coach Chris Valdez was still more or less satisfied with what he witnessed.
Down nine points, 18-9, after one quarter and eleven (37-26) through two in a Day 2 test against Montezuma-Cortez, the Bobcats rallied back to as close as three points midway through the third before the Panthers-helped by five free throws in eight tries-pulled away to win 62-51.
And in the previous night's marquee matchup, IHS exploded out to a 21-9 lead in just eight minutes and still led BHS by 11 (40-29) at halftime before the Wolverines finally regained the lead at 48-47 late in the third quarter. Two later Cole McCaw freethrows, however, put the 'Cats up by a point going into the fourth quarter, giving the guests a chance at pulling off an upset before falling 70-64.
"You know, if Ocean (Hunter, sophomore) scores even four points, and Lawrence (Valdez, junior) scores four..." Valdez said afterwards, noting two regulars' scoreless struggles during the Pine River Rivalry thriller.
"Just two quality losses," he noted the next evening. "I wasn't disappointed, other than that we lost."
And even more quality individual performances.
Senior forward/center Kai Roubideaux totaled three three-pointers and five FTs in as many chances en route to a game-high 22 points against Bayfield. But it was his 10 first-quarter points and 18 at intermission which BHS skipper Jeff Lehnus admitted was most concerning.
"Roubideaux was really going," he said, "and we kind of face-guarded him, the second half."
"They came ready to play; I knew they would," he added. "Just unbelievable, a few of the threes they hit."
Senior guard Johnny Valdez was particularly potent from deep, sinking four treys, and made five of his six charity tosses en route to totaling 21 points. Playing possibly his best game yet this season, McCaw finished with two triples and 16 points before being slowed by three fourth-quarter fouls, leaving him one from disqualification.
He'd finish with four personals the next afternoon against M-CHS as well, but managed just four points. Hot again during the first half with nine points, Roubideaux totaled 11 and Johnny Valdez (three threes, 4-4 FT) booked a team-best 17, trailing only Panther senior forward Jasen Engel's devastating 26.
Junior post Cordell Baer also was successful operating inside and earned the victors 13 points.
Blanked by BHS, against whom he fouled out with 7:08 left in the fourth quarter, Lawrence Valdez bounced back well against Montezuma-Cortez (5-3, 0-0 3A Intermountain) and scored 14, with 12 keying IHS' second-half comeback bid. Hunter's four points also came during the attempted rally.
Now standing 4-3 overall, but still 3-0 in the 2A/1A San Juan Basin League, the Bobcats will look to completely regain their pre-holiday form against circuit opposition. Up first this weekend, Ridgway visits IHS Gymnasium Friday evening, Jan. 12, for a 6 p.m. start, and Telluride is slated for the next evening.
RHS stood 1-5, 0-0 SJBL prior to hosting local rivals Ouray (3-4, 1-1) at 7 p.m. Tuesday.