17th-century English poet John Donne once wrote that no man is an island.
But despite riding a strong Ocean current, a couple more stand-out efforts may have been the life-preservers the 2019 Southwest Colorado Classic's hosts-Ignacio-needed against their backyard rival Saturday, Jan. 5.
Junior forward Ocean Hunter fought for 14 points, but consistent threats Bryce Finn (15.7 ppg prior to the tournament) and Triston Thompson (10.5) were held to 14 combined as the 2A Bobcats led but once after the first quarter in losing 56-40 to 3A Bayfield.
"Late in the game I thought I should have subbed some people out; they were tired," lamented IHS head coach Chris Valdez. "Like Ocean; he didn't get a lot of breaks, but he was making some good things happen in the high post. And I went with him but probably should have brought him out; that hurt us a little down the stretch."
BHS senior forward Hayden Farmer paced all players with his 18, and the Wolverines also got nine points apiece from senior guard Turner Kennedy, junior guard James Mottin and senior guard Keyon Prior, who made his season debut with 11 in a tournament-starting 56-34 win over 4A Durango the previous evening.
"Yeah, that was good," skipper Klint Chandler said, of the diversified attack. "I thought we had an even balance, which is good, so we didn't have to rely on (Farmer, who'd netted 12 against the Demons). And I told 'em that's what our league is, so we've got to get better at that."
Farmer's first seven points, negating Finn's fast five, helped Bayfield (5-4, 0-0 3A Intermountain) take a 13-7 lead after eight minutes inside a painfully-empty - by Ignacio's normal standing-room-only standard, at any rate - IHS Gymnasium.
The hometown fans who did attend, however, saw a glimpse of Bobcat Basketball from years past during the second quarter, as a nine-point BHS lead disappeared within the last three minutes before intermission. Playing an improvised role of Valdez's "sixth man," senior guard Randall Doyebi sank a surprise three-pointer to bring IHS back to 18-15. The Wolverines answered with a basket closer in, but Thompson responded with a trey with two minutes left, and Doyebi then connected again from deep for a sudden 21-20 advantage.
"I didn't think we quite showed up ready to play tonight," said Chandler. "I thought we were sluggish in the first, you know? We didn't have enough pressure - I thought we needed more pressure on the basketball the whole game, really. We didn't play real well on the defensive end tonight."
Getting a basket inside from senior center Matt McSweeney, the visitors managed to swipe a shaky 22-21 lead just before heading back to the locker room still needing that little something extra.
Making up for lost time after missing all of December, Prior provided a vital boost with seven third-quarter points while Farmer booked five. But after an odd technical foul (illegal substitution/participation) called against perplexed senior Briant Cuellar, Hunter made both resulting free throws - not long after Finn finally drained a three - and the 'Cats (2-6, 1-1 2A/1A San Juan Basin) were again within three points, 31-28, with 3:50 left.
Relatively quiet offensively up to that moment, Kennedy countered by canning what proved to be the contest's most crucial triple as BHS outscored IHS 8-2 before the quarter expired.
Not out of magic just yet, Doyebi began the final frame with his third three-pointer, cutting the guests' lead back down to 39-33 before Bayfield began separating. Mottin caught an airballed Prior floater between two Bobcats and made the conversion for a 45-35 advantage with 5:05 left. The Wolverines then proceeded to outscore Ignacio 10-2 during the next 3:47 with a Mottin corner-three capping the clinching run.
"There was no coming back from that," Valdez said. "They are defending state champions, got three All-State-type players on that team and...would win the state championship easily in 2A. So I'm real excited at how we played early."
"And yesterday we were only down six points in the third," he continued, noting IHS' work in a 70-54 loss to 3A Montezuma-Cortez on the event's first day. "This one, we were only six down in the fourth! Now we've got to play a full game the whole time, get our rotation down, and hopefully by the first of February we can be competitive and have our record back where we need it."
Finn finished with eight points while Thompson totaled six and sophomore guard Brady McCaw-who'd burned M-CHS for 19, complementing well Finn's 16-three. McSweeney scored all six of his points before halftime, and junior forward Ethan Morris logged five for BHS.
The Wolverines finished 5-of-10 from the free-throw line, while the Bobcats were 5-of-7 while sinking seven threes to Bayfield's five. But during the second half, only Hunter managed a basket inside the arc while outscoring his teammates 10-9.
Up next, BHS will at last begin Intermountain action at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, versus Alamosa, with Montezuma-Cortez visiting at 5 p.m. the next evening. Cortez downed Durango 56-38 on Day 2 to also go 2-0 at the Classic.
IHS, meanwhile, will welcome Norwood for SJBL battle at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12.