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Mancos boys basketball storms to San Juan Basin crown

Victories over Telluride and Dolores propel Bluejays to top spot

MANCOS – When a balanced, veteran Mancos squad lost their first league game of the season following the holidays, there was never a sense of panic – the Jays still controlled their own destiny.

Their resilience paid off, and as each week passed, Mancos appeared more dangerous.

The resulting run, one in which the Bluejays have won eight consecutive league games, brought Mancos back to the top of the heap.

A winner-take-all matchup against Telluride on Saturday capped the regular season title, as Mancos built a double-digit first-quarter lead en route to a 63-55 win.

The victory came less than 24 hours after Mancos completed their regular season sweep of Dolores with a 61-33 blitz – decisions that helped the Bluejays secure the top spot in this week’s upcoming district tournament in Telluride.

Mancos (15-4 overall, 8-1 in 2A/1A San Juan Basin League play) controlled the tempo against its opposition, and its ability to get out and run generated early leads in both weekend encounters.

The Bluejays put together a combined first quarter output where they outscored the Bears and Miners 41-11 in the opening eight minutes of their matchups, and Mancos didn’t look back from there.

Senior Kail Wayman put together one his best offensive showings in the win over the Miners, pacing the Bluejays in their final regular season home game with 18 points, half of which came in the first half run that put the Jays up 30-17 at the break.

Junior Kaiden Wyatt continued his tear over the past month, scoring 12 of his 14 in the opening half as well, while also putting Telluride’s senior post standout Grayson Berry in foul trouble.

The Miners (13-5, 7-2 in league play) worked their way back into the game from beyond the arc, making 11 3-pointers – seven in the second half – to close the game to within five points in the fourth quarter – but the Jays did enough at the foul line to deny the rally.

Freshman Kaleb Schmitt made all four of his fourth quarter tries to reach double figures with 10 points, while senior Andrew Jaime also added a dozen points in the win.

Telluride’s Townes Merritt led the Miners with 17 points, while senior classmate Cash Livermore added 15 points – all the in the second half – in defeat. The host of the upcoming district tournament, Telluride and Mancos could be on a collision course for a third meeting to decide the district title.

For Mancos, a win over rival Dolores (4-15, 0-9 in league action) made its league-capping win over Telluride possible, as the Jays could not afford to slip up ahead of its Saturday showdown. Schmitt and company made sure that there wouldn’t be a letdown.

Mancos controlled matters from the opening tip, as Schmitt accounted for 17 points to earn game-high honors.

Dolores senior Mark Palate scored a team-high 14 points, while classmate Jonathan Purkat added eight, but the Bears’ skid extended to 11 games.

With the regular season in the rearview mirror, the Jays can turn their focus to district play, where a tournament title will put the Bluejays in a prime position to host a regional games in the upcoming 2A state tournament.

Mancos, Ridgway and Dolores will all converge on the Miner Dome in Telluride for the single-elimination tournament, with an automatic state tournament bid up for grabs.

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