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Mancos battles back for Senior Night win over M-CHS

Bluejay seniors Mandi Peacock, Akima Kane, and Sam Simmons join family in their Senior Night recognition contest against Montezuma-Cortez.Ben Bradley/Special to The Journal
Bench contributions lift Bluejays in county rivalry game

MANCOS – On a night set aside to recognize an influential class of soon-to-be graduates, Mancos saved their best for an emotional encounter with Montezuma-Cortez, leaning on several seniors to carry the Bluejays to victory.

While a trio of Bluejays – seniors Quincy Montoya and Teya Yeomans, along with sophomore Claire Goodwin – typically fill the score column for Mancos, on Tuesday night, Bluejay depth keyed their comeback against M-CHS (9-9, 5-4 4A/3A IML), with four additional players providing clutch baskets to lift Mancos to a 45-38 win.

Seniors Mandi Peacock and Sam Simmons each recorded valuable points and defense, helping Mancos (12-5, 5-1 2A/1A SJBL) erase an early nine-point deficit with a decisive 16-5 run in the third quarter to flip the script.

Playing without their own senior leading-scorer Savannah Haselroth, M-CHS turned to junior Taylor Whited for a first quarter flurry that electrified the game’s opening minutes. After Mancos seized an early 6-2 advantage on Yeomans’ early lay-ups, Whited drained four first quarter three-pointers as part of a 13-0 Panther run to take the lead, 15-6.

Mancos began to chip away through Montoya and Goodwin, as the duo combined for nine points in the second quarter, while a combined defensive effort put the clamps on Whited’s hot shooting night. Peacock scored on a jumper right before the break to cut the score to 24-21 – the Panthers were in front heading the locker room, but the momentum was clearly on the side of the home team.

Goodwin caught fire in the third stanza, scoring 10 of her team-high 17 points, but it was big baskets from Simmons, sophomore Aysia Mathews, and junior Jenna Wilson that accompanied the run that brought the Bluejay bench to its feet. Mancos led 37-29 after three, and was never truly threatened the rest of the way.

Panther sophomore Sariah Jackson scored eight points to join Whited’s game-high 19 tallies, while senior Markylla Jones added six in the losing effort, but the Panthers could never really find an offensive rhythm after the first quarter, primarily due to stingy pressure applied by the Bluejays.

Peacock added to her big night with a couple of second half steals to stifle the Panther attack, then in the fourth quarter, took a post pass for a lay-up that all-but-sealed up the win.

Along with Goodwin’s 17 points, Montoya added 10 and Yeomans accounted for eight in the victory, joining Peacock with four points.

For Mancos, their fourth straight win over M-CHS arrived on the shoulders of the class that helped facilitate the program’s impressive turnaround. Already assured their fourth straight winning season, the Bluejays have also claimed another top-two finish in the SJBL (also four years in a row) – and now look to capture the program’s second straight district title. Following their win, the Bluejays could soak in the celebrations with family and friends, as the Bluejay seniors received their opportunity for recognition in the Senior Night festivities.

The regular season winds down for both the Bluejays and Panthers this weekend, as Mancos will travel to Dolores for a Friday night bout (Feb. 16) with the Bears, before concluding the slate with a Saturday meeting with Telluride. For the Panthers, a trip to Ignacio remains on the schedule on Thursday, Feb. 15, before IML district play gets underway in Bayfield on the same weekend that the Bluejays travel to Telluride for their district action – Friday and Saturday, Feb. 23-24.