TELLURIDE - Entering the MinerDome Saturday, Jan. 19, Ignacio's Justa Whitt was hoping to see a little something more from her team, which had won the previous evening but definitely not as they'd planned in practice.
"We had a less-than-stellar game," she'd said via text message, "but we got it done."
Few crews would have called a 49-21 win at Ridgway less-than-stellar, but the boss wasn't really exaggerating.
Twenty of the Bobcats' points came during the second quarter, which was a good thing; not only did IHS hold the dazed Demons scoreless in the same quarter, but the visitors wiped out an unexpected 10-8 deficit facing them after the initial eight minutes.
Wanting her squad to lead from the outset against THS rather than rally again on the road, Whitt's emerging backcourt-frontcourt punch of sophomore guard Jayden Brunson and junior forward Makayla Howell didn't disappoint.
Behind a quick six points from Howell and five from Brunson, Ignacio successfully built up a 20-5 lead on the Miners during the first quarter and more or less coasted to a more-reassuring 54-26 triumph.
Foul trouble, more than anything, hampered Telluride's hopes to hang with 'Cats. The Miners' 6'1" senior center Jess Pack and 5'8" sophomore guard Margaux Lovely each picked up her third foul before halftime, when Telluride trailed by a 29-14 count.
Held scoreless by an IHS roster still lacking injured center Shelcie Gosney, Pack picked up her fourth personal with 4:10 still remaining in the third quarter. Shortly after, Brunson cashed a three-pointer to increase the guests' lead to 38-20. Telluride managed a basket inside, but on the ensuing possession Brunson again connected from long range, and senior reserve forward/center Reyna Cruz ended the quarter striking from inside, giving IHS a 43-22 advantage with just eight minutes left.
Brunson pumped in the final seven points in the fourth quarter, including her fourth trey, of her game-high 18.
Howell and sophomore guard Ebonee Gomez each finished with six points, while freshman guard Avaleena Nanaeto booked eight. All told, nine different Ignacio players booked at least two points, though the 'Cats combined were a concerning 5-of-15 from the free-throw line, compared to Telluride's 6-of-9.
Blanked during limited action at Ridgway (where 10 different 'Cats logged at least a point), junior forward Larissa Gallegos, still recovering from multiple injuries this winter, saw more minutes at Telluride and responded with three points. Howell scored 14 at Ridgway while Bronson made eight points. Ignacio is now 8-4 overall, 7-0 against the full 2A/1A San Juan Basin League, and 5-0 versus its 2A teams.
Up next, IHS will travel to Nucla on Saturday, Jan. 26, becoming the Mustangs' fourth opponent in seven days. Ignacio will then host Ridgway on Feb. 1 and Telluride the next afternoon inside SunUte Community Center, with the Bobcats' Butch Melton Memorial Wrestling Invitational set to commandeer IHS Gymnasium.