MONTROSE COUNTY-Seven straight Nucla fouls allowed visiting Ignacio to string together eight unanswered points beginning the third quarter, and the Bobcats went into the fourth having not allowed even a free throw en route to a thorough 60-23 win Saturday, Jan. 26.
"We were good at the free-throw line and had good transitions, played solid defense," said head coach Justa Whitt. "We need to get better offensively with a lot of missed shots, but it's still a good work-in-progress win."
Playing without sophomore backcourt talents Jayden Brunson and Charlize Valdez, but having regained sophomore center Shelcie Gosney after a Jan. 10 ankle injury at Dolores, the guests got out to a 12-6 lead through eight minutes, with Gosney booking a quick six points including four free-throw makes in as many tries.
"We got off to a bit of a slow start there, but we got it together. And despite being a little short at the guard positions, we were OK," Whitt said.
NHS senior post Caitlyn Littlejohn was also goaded into committing three first-quarter fouls. That softened the Mustangs' interior, allowing 'Cat junior forward Makayla Howell to bounce a perfect feed to cutting senior guard Kiana Valdez for a textbook backdoor layup beginning the second quarter.
Seven different Ignacio players scored during the stanza, with sophomore Ebonee Gomez knocking down a long jumper in the waning seconds to increase IHS' halftime advantage to 33-15.
Gomez logged six points during the quarter, eight for the half and total 12 for the 2A/1A San Juan Basin League contest. Howell recorded 12, with six coming during the third quarter. Gosney finished with 11 while picking up just two personals compared to Littlejohn's four.
Howell was called for zero infractions while junior forward Larissa Gallegos was hit with just two.
Valdez totaled eight points while freshmen guards Avaleena Nanaeto and Monica Lucero each scored six, and Ignacio (9-4, 8-0 SJBL) finished 14-of-22 from the charity stripe.
"We had even scoring across the board tonight," noted Whitt, "and it just came from good passing and being unselfish with the basketball."
Playing with three fouls, scrappy sophomore guard Ashley Steele managed three fourth-quarter baskets to finish with nine points for Nucla (5-9, 3-5). Littlejohn netted five, including the game's only three-pointer, and junior post Jacquelyn Terrell also contributed five in defeat.
Up next for the 'Cats will be a Feb. 1 evening rematch with Ridgway at home, then a Feb. 2 afternoon tussle with Telluride inside SunUte Community Center before a Feb. 5 challenge at non-league Del Norte.