Log In

Reset Password

Second-half run pushes Bluejays past Panthers

Mancos junior Kaiden Wyatt preps to battle M-CHS senior Easton Hartsoe for a rebound in a game at Mancos High School.Ben Bradley/Special to The Journal
Mancos wins Senior Night shootout on Wyatt’s big night

MANCOS – Wandering through the trophy cases that adorn the atrium of Bluejay Fieldhouse, there’s an entire section that serves as testament to the athletic success of the Class of 2024. On Tuesday night, the senior Bluejays received their due, celebrating on a night dedicated to their storied contributions.

The prolific class, whose home court narrative still has some chapters left to write, added one more memorable night to the ever-growing list of Bluejays’ athletic achievements, as the hosts used an energetic second half to pull away from Montezuma-Cortez, 72-59.

Along with ensuring that this year’s class capped off an unbeaten four years against the Panthers on the hardwood, Mancos (13-4, 6-1 2A/1A SJBL) upped their chances of getting to host a regional site in the 2A postseason. Their senior send-off included big production from the four seniors who saw the floor for head coach Dusty Veach’s rotation, as Mancos generated a decisive 12-2 run late in the third and early into the fourth quarter to turn a 49-45 advantage into a 61-47 lead. The margin would grow to as large as 20 in the fourth quarter, allowing the Jays to soak in the final minutes and celebrate their Senior Night in style.

Mancos senior Brian Veach and M-CHS senior Easton Hartsoe contest the opening tip in a contest at Mancos High School. Ben Bradley/Special to The Journal

Seniors Andrew Jaime, Brian Veach, Kail Wayman, and Chris Medina all showcased flashy plays on a night where the Bluejays and Panthers exchanged aggressive drives to the rim in an end-to-end first half. Jaime started the fireworks with a couple of steals-turned-buckets in the opening quarter, before Veach added to the mix in the second quarter, accounting for seven of his 13 points which allowed Mancos to reverse a first quarter deficit and take a 36-30 lead into halftime.

Montezuma-Cortez (6-12, 3-6 4A/3A IML) responded with runs of their own, as junior Caidin Leonard set off another shooting display. The guard netted 11 of his game-high 23 points in the third quarter, as M-CHS kept pace with the Bluejays. Classmate Tay Wheat accounted for 14 points as well, as he and Wayman enjoyed their own battle within a battle on the court – with several blowby drives for each player accounting for Wayman’s nine points to counter Wheat’s showcase play.

Chris Medina scored in every quarter on his way to a dozen points, but on Senior Night, it was junior Kaiden Wyatt whose clinical performance in the paint ultimately turned the tide in the game. Wyatt scored 20 points, almost all coming off strong post moves and half of which came in the decisive run, overwhelming their visitors as the Panthers ran out of answers down the stretch. In spite of getting outscored from beyond the arc 15-6, Mancos more than made up for the disparity by using their control around the rim to earn plenty of trips to the free throw line, where they outscored M-CHS 18-2.

Jaime finished with 18 points to complement Wyatt’s performance, joining Medina and Veach in double figures. Panther senior Easton Hartsoe and freshman Trey Hall each had six to join their top scorers Leonard and Wheat.

Mancos secured their fifth straight win over M-CHS, and now look to win the San Juan Basin League outright, which requires victories over Dolores on Friday, Feb. 16 and then Telluride on the following morning. Both contests will be available on local radio station 98.7 FM KRTZ and krtzradio.com, beginning on Friday night at 5:45 p.m. with the girls kicking off the doubleheader action.