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Ignacio basketball goes down swinging

Boys fall to Lotus; girls lose to Peyton in Round of 32
Ignacio's Eppie Quintana, pictured earlier this season, scored 15 points for the Bobcats on Friday, but it wasn’t enough for the team to beat the Lotus School for Excellence. (Joel Priest/Special to the Herald)

The Ignacio boys and girls basketball teams were both eliminated on Friday in the Round of 32 of the Class 2A playoffs.

The boys fell to the Lotus School of Excellence 52-41, while the girls lost to Peyton 47-38.

The Ignacio boys trailed 10-6 after the first quarter, despite Eppie Quintana’s running basket to begin the game. The soft middle of Ignacio’s 2-3 zone defense, however, was exploited often, and IHS fell behind 16-6 in the second quarter before Devante Montoya nailed a three-pointer. The three began a frenetic comeback led by Tucson with four second-quarter points, Gabe Cox’s five and capped by Tucson taking a Cox touch pass in the paint to tie the score at 20-20 about 20 seconds before halftime.

Tucson began the third quarter drilling a midrange pull-up deuce. The Meteors answered with back-to-back buckets, but Cox would retie the game at 24 with a short jumper, and Tucson converted a put-back for a 26-24 lead. Ignacio kept the pressure on and extended its advantage to 30-24 via an Eppie Quintana baseline take of a quick Cox feed, forcing Lotus into a timeout with 3:37 left.

Led by the backcourt of Adani Hassan (18 points) and Elias Dessalegn (18), the Meteors stayed close despite Tucson canning a go-ahead trey that gave the Bobcats a 33-32 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Lotus’ Petros Tareke answered immediately with a triple to begin the fourth. Lotus extended its lead to 39-33, and the Bobcats trimmed it down to three points – at 44-41 via two Cox free throws – the rest of the way.

With Hassan hitting 8 of 10 fourth-quarter free throws, then icing the cake with a steal and buzzer-beating layup, Lotus School for Excellence (18-4 overall) emerged victorious – to next play either regional-hosting Vail Mountain or Lyons in Saturday's Region 4 championship.

Caleb Bafukila (8 points), Tareke (6) and Ahmed Jabai (2) rounded out the Meteors’ scoring. Lotus also ended up 15 of 20 at the foul line (but just 6 of 7 before the fourth quarter); Ignacio went 7 of 9 (Tucson 4-of-4, Cox 3-of-5).

Tucson scored 15 points to lead Ignacio. Cox scored 13, Eppie Quintana added six, Devante Montoya scored five, and Phillip Quintana chipped in two.

The Bobcats – who can return all but Tucson and reserve Cyrus Naranjo next winter – finished their season 16-7 overall.

Ignacio girls fall to Peyton

The No. 25 Ignacio girls also were in action Friday, taking on the Region VIII hosts, No. 8 Peyton. The game was close, with Peyton leading 13-11 after the first quarter and 19-13 at halftime. Peyton added six points to its lead in the third to take a 37-25 lead. The Bobcats won the final quarter, 13-10, but couldn’t catch the Panthers.

The loss ends Ignacio’s season at 11-11 overall.

No. 17 Mancos also came up short Friday, falling 41-31 to the No. 16 Akron girls.