Having buoyed Ignacio's collective spirit the previous evening with a furious 11-point fourth-quarter, junior guard Johnny Valdez flashed another finishing flourish last Saturday evening with nine in the fourth on Day 2 of Durango's Four Corners Tournament.
Unfortunately, victory was not gained by either effort.
Routed by Pine River Valley neighbors Bayfield on Day 1, a shaky third quarter against Montezuma-Cortez allowed the Panthers' 23-22 halftime lead to swell to 44-29 with only eight minutes remaining, and IHS got no closer than 52-43 - via two late Valdez free throws - in falling 60-43 and beginning the New Year on a two-game slide. "We just came out flat," junior guard Cole McCaw said, "and didn't work together very well as a team."
Effectively following up his team-high 17 points against the Wolverines inside the DemonDome, Valdez totaled 14 against Cortez, including 5-for-5 foul-line accuracy.
But while the 'Cats (3-3, 2-0 2A/1A San Juan Basin) finished 12-of-18 overall from the stripe, Montezuma-Cortez (3-5, 0-0 3A Intermountain) thrived from it - particularly in owning the second half by an aggregate 37-21 margin.
Having made his 2016-17 season debut with five points against BHS, Ignacio sophomore guard Lawrence Duffin-Valdez increased his output to 11 against Montezuma-Cortez. Held scoreless by the 3A Wolverines, senior guard Joaquin King found range to sink three three-pointers on Day 2 at the event and record nine points.
Junior center/forward Kai Roubideaux scored three points, while McCaw, junior guard Kruz Pardo and freshman forward Ocean Hunter each netted two in the Bobcats' last game before resuming their run through the SJBL with tomorrow's visit to Ridgway and then a trip to Telluride on the 17th.
"We've got to prepare from our loss," said McCaw, "and try to use it as good."
Cortez senior forward/center Braden Keetch went 4-of-4 as part of his team-leading 14 points, and junior guard Jasen Engel (12 points) was 8-of-8 as M-CHS finished the game 26-of-37. Senior Micah Hightower (2-3 FT) logged 10 points, and junior guard Daniel Fernandez (7-10 FT) chipped in nine as 10 different Panthers registered at least one point.