Whether or not time heals all wounds - at least between Ignacio and Nucla - won't be seen for quite a while.
Tempers were heated during a 2A/1A San Juan Basin League battle which became all the more chippy as it wore on, and emotions nearly boiled over as players and fans exited SunUte Community Center. Both the the Mustangs and Ignacio Bobcats returned home at least knowing they won't square off for another basketball season.
Senior guard Avionne Gomez and sophomore center Morgan Herrera registered the Jan. 26 game's first nine points before freshman guard Ashley Steele got the guests going with two free throws and 5:11 left in the first quarter. IHS then managed to build up a double-digit lead at 14-2, via three Allisianna Baker FTs, before the midway mark. The Bobcats had to a 21-8 lead after the eight minutes and ultimately a 61-22 victory.
"We've definitely improved, so we were just looking to try our hardest this time," said Steele, alluding to the crews' Dec. 9 engagement, won 58-15 by Ignacio, at Montezuma-Cortez's tournament. "We knew coming in here it was going to be tough, but we tried our best."
"We came out slow and sloppy," said IHS freshman Ebonee Gomez, who scored two points, "didn't think they were going to push that hard."
And it showed. Though unable to fully capitalize on the scoreboard, Nucla (2-10, 2-4 SJBL) at least gave themselves a fighting chance as Herrera picked up her third personal foul with 5:25 left in the second quarter and Gomez hers with 4:09 still remaining. That sent both girls to the bench until after halftime.
Mustang junior Caitlyn Littlejohn went to the charity stripe 10 times alone in the second quarter, but converted only four attempts as the #8 (CHSAANow.com Class 2A poll, Jan. 22) 'Cats still held a 34-15 lead at intermission.
But with all of Trae Seibel's regulars back on the floor beginning the second half, Ignacio ran away and outscored Nucla 22-1 in the third quarter, helped by six points courtesy sophomore Larissa Gallegos, five courtesy the elder Gomez and a three-pointer from junior Kiana Valdez.
And when Littlejohn picked up her fourth foul with 4:18 left, IHS could breathe a little easier knowing the visitors had just two substitutes available.
"It was a longer court, so we got out of breath faster," said the younger Gomez, alluding to the alternate site used, with IHS Gymnasium in use to prepare for the next day's wrestling tournament. "So we need to run more and work as a team more."
Avionne Gomez's 15 points led all players and Herrera was right behind with 14. Gallegos also reached double figures with her 10, and freshman post Shelcie Gosney was close with seven as nine different 'Cats scored at least one.
Having scored six first-quarter points, Steele totaled an NHS-best 10 points and was 4-of-5 from the foul line.
Having improved to 7-0 against the league and 11-0 overall, Ignacio will host Dolores on Thursday. The 'Cats will then host Norwood-whom they'd trounced 68-29 back on Jan. 20-on Feb. 3, in preparation for a Feb. 6 rumble with 4A Durango on the neutral floor of Durango-based Fort Lewis College.
CHSAANOW.COM CLASS 2A GIRLS' BASKETBALL RANKINGS (updated 1/29): 1.Yuma, 2.Wray, 3.Swink, 4.Del Norte, 5.Limon, 6.Holyoke, 7.Paonia, 8.Haxtun, 9.Simla, 10.IGNACIO. Others receiving votes-Denver Christian, Lyons, Oak Creek Soroco, Colorado Springs Evangelical Christian, Ault Highland, Akron, Meeker, Evergreen Clear Creek, Ellicott, Sanford, Burlington, Center.