Including postseasons past and an early-season tournament or two, Ignacio girls basketball has, in no uncertain terms, owned the San Juan Basin League.
And they don’t appear to be selling anytime soon.
The Bobcats clinched the SJBL title after going 12-0 in league this winter via a 58-32 rout of Mancos on Tuesday evening. The Bobcats were to have entered their regular-season finale Feb. 15 versus Pagosa Springs riding a 34-game overall winning streak against both sides of their 2A/1A circuit and eager to test their mettle against the Class 3A third-ranked Pirates in preparation for the 2A District 3 Tournament that will begin Feb. 22 at neutral Durango High School.
The winter storm which arrived Thursday, however, led to that inter-league action being scrubbed out of necessity, as Pagosa’s slated Valentine’s Day trip and Intermountain League date with Bayfield was rescheduled for the afternoon of the 15th.
But, even without receiving their desired assessment of ability, IHS’ most capable challengers when playoff-style ball begins will still, in all likelihood, be themselves. Senior reserve Rosie Concepcion can very well attest to that.
Hustling for a ball in the last seconds of an odd junior-varsity game, she and the Ignacio ‘White’ drubbed Ignacio ‘Red’ 36-12. The forward who went on to start for the varsity later that night against Mancos injured a knee and was removed immediately after tipoff. Still, Ignacio (13-5, 12-0 SJBL) didn’t miss a step.
Eleven of head coach Justa Whitt’s 14 players scored at least a point, though Ignacio time and time again elected to patiently re-run their offensive sets if the coaches or players weren’t satisfied with speed, spacing or timing.
Junior forward Makayla Howell again displayed her growing array of post moves in netting 10 points, while sophomore center Shelcie Gosney and junior forward Larissa Gallegos combined for 14 more points, and senior backups Fernanda Tavares and Reyna Cruz totaled seven points while contributing physical minutes.
Sophomore guard Jayden Brunson, a starter earlier this season but seemingly as content now to come in off the bench given IHS’ depth at the position, showed her long-range touch with three 3-pointers and a game-high 11 points, all during the second half against Mancos.
Freshmen Avaleena Nanaeto and Monika Lucero totaled 10 points and joined Brunson, sophomore Ebonee Gomez, and the sisters Valdez (senior Kiana, sophomore Charlize) in stifling Mancos’ backcourt players.
Defensively, Ignacio allowed just three first-half field goals and nine for the game, numbers practically matching those posted in last Saturday’s road win at Ouray, but did permit Mancos to attempt 31 free throws, a number which could prove fatal at Pagosa Springs. Mancos made just 14 but still bettered IHS’ 9-of-20 accuracy in just about the only weakness the Bobcats have at times shown.
“They know better than that, so we’ll just have to work on that some more, really tighten that up,” Whitt said earlier this season. “We can’t be lackadaisical like that, especially against teams that we should definitely be dominating.”
But should Whitt’s ladies, a first-place 8-0 this season against the SJBL’s 2A teams, find charity-stripe consistency more equal to their offensive and defensive efforts, expect the District 3 title plaque to make the short drive from the Demon Dome back out to Bobcat Country.
DISTRICT SEEDINGS STILL TBD: All the San Juan Basin League’s 2A teams are slated to be in action this weekend wrapping up regular-season play, meaning the District 3 Tournament’s bracket is still fertile for seeding. Standing 2-5 against the group, Mancos is set to host 2-5 Telluride Friday, Feb. 15, while 3-4 Ridgway will visit 3-4 Dolores the next afternoon. Weather permitting, of course.
SCHEDULE CHANGE: Bayfield athletic director Derrick Martin announced Thursday afternoon that the Pagosa Springs at Bayfield games have been tentatively rescheduled for Friday, with junior varsity play for both boys and girls beginning at 2 p.m., varsity girls hoops following at 3:30 p.m., and varsity boys tip off at 5 p.m.