Despite engaging in a one or two-possession game most of the night, the Ignacio Bobcats found themselves truly playing from behind early in the third quarter Tuesday and were unable to make a comeback against the Dove Creek Bulldogs.
“We knew it was going to be like this,” Dove Creek coach Julie Kibel said following the Bulldogs’ 47-43 win at IHS Gymnasium. “Every time we play Ignacio – doesn’t matter if it’s summer basketball camp, at a tournament, or a (regular-season) game like this – it’s fun. I love these kind of games.”
Dove Creek improved to 12-2 overall, while Ignacio fell to 7-9.
Coach Trae Seibel’s Ignacio squad retied the score at 19 late in the second quarter via senior guard Darlyn Mendoza-Lechuga’s hard take to the hole with 1:11 remaining. The Bobcat then went up 21-19 thanks to a bucket by senior guard Maci Barnes, only for Dove Creek to take a 22-21 lead into halftime via a surprise 3-pointer with 45 seconds left by reserve Halee Beanland.
“Halee’s a senior, wasn’t going to play this season, and I’m so grateful she came out. Because she does all the little things right and she’s really … a wonderful sixth-man player,” Kibel said. “I mean, she’s got that role down to a T – and that’s been huge. And not just this game but, like, our last three.”
Building on road wins over Monticello, Utah, and two wins over 1A/2A San Juan Basin League power Mancos, Dove Creek began the second half with a 3-pointer by senior guard Kalie Gatlin. With 5:17 left in the third quarter, senior forward Kylie Gatlin drained a 3-pointer to increase the Bulldogs’ lead to 32-23.
However, Ignacio fought back.
Mendoza-Lechuga set the scene for the fourth frame with a successful 3-point heave from midcourt – immediately answering Beanland’s on-the-spot cleanup of sophomore guard Hadley Hatfield’s air-balled 3-pointer, which brought Ignacio back to 36-32 with just eight minutes left.
The Bobcats crept back to make it a 38-35 game before Kylie Gatlin sank a jumper from just inside the arc for the Bulldogs.
Ignacio was still in with Dove Creek in foul trouble. Hatfield picked up four personal fouls during the fourth quarter alone, and Kalie Gatlin picked up her fourth with just 42.1 ticks left.
Ignacio senior center Solymar Cosio made one of two free throws, trimming Dove Creek’s lead to 47-42. Freshman forward Maliyah Martinez also hit a free throw, but it was too little, too late for the Bobcats.
Kalie Gatlin finished with six points via two 3-pointers, while twin sister Kylie’s seven points in the fourth quarter upped her count to a team-leading 13. Sophomore post Taylor Hampton scored 11 points, and junior guard Ralynn Hickman tallied nine points.
“We’re all sick – I caught it first, but it’s just been going around,” Kibel said. “Everybody today on the way over … knew they had to play sick. Knew they had to give it their all and their heart tonight was for basketball. I’m proud of these girls for battling through. That’s (four) big wins in a row.”
Mendoza-Lechuga and Cosio scored 15 and 13 points, respectively, for Ignacio.
“We’ve been coaching these girls up … giving them opportunities – and freedom – to improvise and really just have some confidence in themselves,” Seibel said. “We don’t want to (paint) anybody into a corner. We want everybody to feel like they can make a play.”
Ignacio will resume league play Friday night at Montezuma-Cortez.