LOVELAND - The Ignacio High School boys basketball team loves to push the tempo, but on Thursday, the Bobcats were on the wrong end of a track-meet style game.
The sixth-seeded Bobcats couldn't keep the pace of No. 3 Byers, fell behind early and never got within striking distance en route to a 65-44 loss in the Class 2A state quarterfinals at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland.
The Bobcats (19-5) got off to a slow start and didn't get their first made field goal until Kai Roubideaux hit a 3-pointer 4 minutes, 13 seconds into the game. Byers, on the other hand, didn't have a problem finding the basket and built a 12-0 lead to start the game.
"It was huge," Byers head coach Jeremy Kerns said of the quick start. "We thought we might play pretty loose; the last two years we got to play at the Pepsi Center and that huge environment there. We thought, 'Well, this (the BEC) is half that size.' We kept telling the kids, 'If you play like you did at the Pepsi Center, you'll get off to a good start.'
"I think we were up 10- or 12-0 and now the other team is pressing a little bit; they're pressing to get their shot to go in."
Behind the quick start for the Bulldogs (20-4) and early struggles for Ignacio, Byers held a 25-12 lead after the opening quarter.
Ignacio started to heat up in the second quarter and hit three 3-pointers, but it wasn't enough to cut into the Bulldogs' lead.
Byers continued to push the tempo and got a 3 from Brady Shelley before the halftime buzzer that sent the game to intermission with a 43-27 advantage.
"They came out and got up (12-0) on us, just like Limon did last week (in the Region 6 tournament) and we made a rally and a run (against Limon), but we didn't get that run at the right time to get our confidence up," Ignacio head coach Chris Valdez said. "Our heads kept getting deeper and deeper in the sand and we couldn't get on track."
The second half didn't get any better for the Bobcats, who again struggled to find the bucket and were held to seven points in the quarter. Byers led 59-34 at the start of the fourth quarter.
"I never thought the game was in hand until the last three or four minutes," Kerns said. "We kept telling the kids, 'These guys could hit six or seven 3s in a row and if you don't keep playing defense we're not going to get this thing.'"
With the game in hand, Byers spread out and moved the ball around the perimeter to burn clock and coast to the victory.
Austin Davis led Byers with 26 points, 18 of which came in the first half. Shelley finished with 18 points with four made 3-pointers.
Roubideaux was the lone Bobcat in double figures with 16 points.
"He played really well," Valdez said of Roubideaux. "Kai's one of those kids who's been hurt and sick, and to see him back at full force was good.
"But we missed some easy ones, had some turnovers and our defense was hurting us a little bit throughout the game. We need to correct those things if we want to get a win here."
Byers will face No. 2 Yuma (23-2) in the semifinals at 8:30 p.m. Friday, while the Bobcats move into the consolation bracket and will face No. 7 Ellicott (15-10) at 10:15 a.m. Friday. Both games will be played at the Budweiser Events Center.