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Ignacio finishes second to Durango at Centauri

Durango girls win title game 40-26
The Ignacio Bobcats break a huddle coming out of a timeout during the Centauri-hosted Mountain Top Classic. IHS went 2-1 at the three-day event, losing only to Durango in the championship game. (Courtesy IHS Girls' Basketball)

First an incredible season-opening comeback.

Then an improbable blowout of a Southwest Colorado powerhouse.

By the time the Ignacio Bobcats took the court on Day 3 of the Centauri Mountain Top Classic, the girls had already endured a tournament’s worth of drama. Ignacio then squared off with Durango in the title game.

Ignacio reached the championship by clipping 3A Olathe 41-39, then routing Dove Creek, which came to La Jara ranked No. 5 in the preseason CHSAANow.com Class 1A poll, 59-37.

Durango beat Cedaredge 61-21 and Centauri 37-23 to reach the championship.

IHS’ run, however, slowed just enough during the event’s final quarter to allow DHS to pull away and prevail 40-26.

“We went into halftime down by four or five. We were right there with them – it was a true ‘championship’ game,” Ignacio head coach Trae Seibel said.

“Ignacio has a good team, and coach Seibel has those kids playing hard,” said DHS head coach Tim Fitzpatrick.

“Toward the end of the third quarter, we were down by four; we were making a heck of a run,” Seibel said. “We battled as hard as we could, but we ended up losing some momentum and Durango got some easy buckets on us late. And Durango, I give them credit; that’s one of the best Durango teams I’ve seen. I think they definitely could make a pretty deep run in the postseason. They’re a top team.”

“It was really close, but we were consistent through four quarters, and that got us a cushion at the end,” Fitzpatrick said.

The Demons, who were the top Others Receiving Votes’ team in Class 5A, led 12-7 after one quarter and 21-16 through two, despite senior guard Mason Rowland – a Colorado Mesa University commit – being blanked while defended mainly by likewise-scoreless ’Cat counterpart Laci Brunson.

“They’ve been battling since they were … probably in fifth grade,” said Seibel. “It’s all friendly competition … but Laci wanted to guard Mason. And you know, our girls belonged in that game; they earned the right to be there because they were playing as a team. And this early in the season, that’s good for me to see … continuing to look forward.”

DHS senior Halle Peterson totaled nine first-half points and finished with a game-high 18. Rowland managed to book eight after intermission, and senior Riley Campbell – a Western Colorado University soccer commit – ended up with seven (all in the first half). Durango also went 11-of-16 from the free-throw line to improve to 3-1 overall. IHS begins the year 2-1.

“Our defense is what really did it for us,” Fitzpatrick said. “We played good, solid defense all three games.”

Before getting hurt in the third quarter, senior Harmony Reynolds registered an IHS-best seven points. Junior post-mate Solymar Cosio totaled six points, while Brunson, sophomore Marissa Olguin and sophomore DaLaney Wesner each scored four.

Reynolds and junior Darlyn Mendoza-Lechuga were voted all-tournament for Ignacio, while Rowland and Peterson were honored for Durango. Rowland scored 20 points in Durango’s win over Centauri.

“It was good to see Harm and Darlyn get those honors, for sure,” Seibel said, “but they really all came to play. It was a team win, those first two days and even Saturday. I’m proud of all the girls – it was a heck of a weekend.”

Ignacio trailed OHS 32-26 going into the fourth quarter and the Bobcats found themselves down by more than a dozen before rallying to swipe a two-point victory.

“Ended up getting in some foul trouble as a team, and Olathe … ended up going up by 13,” Seibel said. “And, with about four minutes left in the fourth quarter, we ended up making a heck of a run – it was one of the best comebacks I’ve ever been a part of; the girls just showed no quit.”

Reynolds scored 20 points in the win, and Cosio nine. Brunson and Mendoza-Lechuga each contributed six.

Able to build a 31-20 halftime lead on Dove Creek, IHS rolled into the fourth quarter ahead 44-26 and never really let up in prevailing by 22 points.

“At one point in the fourth quarter, with like 1:30 to go, we were up by 25 on them!” Seibel said. “Our girls were amazing, came to play, and really … proved to themselves that … when they play together, they play smart and can do some great things.”

Reynolds hit two three-pointers in the first quarter and finished a game-high 22. Cosio added 12, and Mendoza-Lechuga chipped in 11. The ’Cats were vicious from the foul line, shooting 23-35 (Olguin 5-6, Reynolds 4-6, Cosio 4-6, Mendoza-Lechuga 7-11).

“We had a good game plan: Go inside and attack the basket really well against Dove Creek’s bigs, get them into foul trouble,” Seibel said. “And we did; we got them into big-time foul trouble.”

Ignacio and Durango boys go 1-2 in Centauri

Unable to follow up on their first-day rout of 3A Olathe, Ignacio’s boys slipped to 1-2 overall after enduring a 47-44 heartbreaker against former San Juan Basin League brethren Dove Creek, ranked No. 3 in Class 1A, and then a 62-49 loss to 3A Cedaredge in the third-place game.

After a dead-even 19-19 second quarter left CHS leading 32-26 going into halftime, the Bobcats won the third quarter 12-10, but Cedaredge recovered to take the fourth quarter, 20-11, to place third.

Durango also played Cedaredge and led by as many as 16 points, but the Bruins rallied to win the game, 60-58. “We were up the whole game, but we didn’t execute in certain situations and they took advantage of it,” said DHS head coach Alan Batiste.

DHS then suffered another two-point loss on Day 2 to Brush, 53-51. “We were down, but we came back,” Batiste said. “We just ran out of time.”

The coach said the team didn’t shoot the ball well on Saturday against Olathe, but the Demons prevailed 28-11 to get in the win column.

The coach, however, is still optimistic about the upcoming season, especially with a few more football players joining the team.

“It’s the beginning of the season and we only had about five days of practice, but at least we know we’re right there,” Batiste said. “We’ll be fine, we just have to put the pieces together.”

Senior guard Eppie Quintana and junior center/forward Gabe Cox were voted all-tournament for Ignacio while Jacob Neubert and Noah Miles earned recognition for DHS.

Quintana led IHS against Olathe with 16 points. Junior Devante Montoya scored 12. Cox contributed nine points, freshman Ambrose Valdez chipped in five and senior Dylan McCaw four.

Against Dove Creek, the Bobcats led 22-21 going into halftime but began the fourth quarter trailing 36-31. Despite outscoring the Bulldogs 13-11 in the fourth, victory eluded the Bobcats.

Ranked No. 2 in Class 3A, Centauri bagged first place by defeating DCHS 47-37. Brush pulled out of the tourney before having to face CHS’ junior-varsity squad in the fifth-place game, which ended up not being held.

IHS will next see action Friday at preseason 2A No. 1 Sanford (0-1), then host 2A Del Norte on Saturday.

Durango, meanwhile, will compete at Ponderosa’s tournament on Thursday-Saturday.

– Cody Olivas contributed to the report