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Unflappable: Seniors rewriting records for Mancos girls basketball

Bluejays’ win total gradually increased each of last six seasons; Mancos athletics enjoying banner year behind Class of 2024
Mancos guard Quincy Montoya (13) prepares to whip a midair pass around Telluride's Tjarn Lyons (10) during a San Juan Basin League girls basketball game on Friday, Jan. 20, 2023, at Mancos High School. (Joel Priest/Special to The Journal)

MANCOS – Four years ago, the Mancos girls basketball program shattered barriers by posting the program’s first winning season in over a decade, all while fielding a team that featured several underclassmen in the regular rotation.

The questions inevitably surfaced. Just how high could this Bluejay team soar over the next three years?

For a program-defining Class of 2024, the answer has come through crystal-clear: the Bluejays’ trajectory has been significant.

Winning seasons continue to pile up for the Jays, as the streak is now at four straight. The program continues to leapfrog to a new high-water mark in victories, surpassing the previous mark of 15 wins set last season.

The results have been contagious across the school’s athletic programs including a state title in football, state tournament appearance in volleyball, along with similar success enjoyed by the boys basketball team.

The common theme is a tenacious senior class that grew alongside the program, grounded in values of hard work and grit.

“We’re in a golden age of Mancos athletics,” senior guard Quincy Montoya said. “We’re all competitive, so while winning is a huge deal to us, no matter what, we’re giving it everything we’ve got. We’ve been building as classmates, making each other better.”

The Bluejays (16-5) have taken the next step with consistent offensive improvements. The program is averaging nearly 10 more points per game than it did several years ago, but continues to pride itself on the other end of the floor, where a steal or drawn charge is worth its weight in gold.

Montoya joins Mandi Peacock, Sam Simmons, Teya Yeomans and Haylie Higgins on their historic run. Each player provides something different for a team in which players understand their roles, whether on the floor for 30 minutes or three minutes.

Peacock leads a team that plays with a high-octane motor, making plays that won’t show up in the box score, but are still disruptive for the opposition.

“It’s so fun to head into the locker room after a game when you’ve done something good to have your teammates tell you, ‘Way to take that charge!’” Peacock said.

For sixth-year head coach Kerri Morgan’s group, high energy leads to hustle plays that bring the bench to its feet, and those collective actions begin to snowball in a positive direction with each win.

The Jays gradually increased their win total in each of the past six seasons, reiterating the adage that “success breeds success.”

Mancos went from four wins that first season in 2018-19 to six, 10, 14, 15 and 16 wins, respectively, over the next five ensuing seasons.

That success includes making sure the program continues to perform at a high level, even after graduation this upcoming May.

“There have been a lot of emotional highs and lows, but it’s been good to see ourselves grow as players, as well as helping the younger girls out,” Peacock said of the four-year journey. “We’ve had so many first-year team members this year, so we’ve really enjoyed helping bring them along.”

Simmons said the Jays have had multiple years to continue to build chemistry, after facing the unique circumstances of having no seniors on the roster during the 2022-23 season, opening the door for the junior class to establish themselves as the program’s leaders.

“Most of our team is the exact same as it was a year ago, which meant that all the new players were just adding to what we already had. And that made our team better,” Simmons said.

Montoya said she hopes younger players are able to continue building on the legacy of the Class of 2024.

Their head coach has been a source of continuity, just like the players themselves.

“She’s been one of the best teachers I’ve had,” Peacock said of her coach. “She can identify something to me and point it out, and I can take that and apply it. I’ve gained a lot of confidence in myself through her.”

Simmons said Mancos is also able to take such confident outside of the court “so the things that we learn from her (Morgan) can be applied in other ways in our lives.”

The Jays will have another chance to play in front of the community that raised them, with an unprecedented hosting opportunity to kick off the 2A state tournament this weekend.

Mancos plays Del Norte 2 p.m. Friday at Bluejay Fieldhouse. Sedgwick County and Center will play in the other regional semifinal matchup Friday, starting at 6 p.m.

The regional finals will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, with the winner moving on the 2A Great 8 in Loveland.

“Every game could be our last game together,” Montoya said.

Simmons then jumped in, saying, “but our focus has been on enjoying it, rather than worrying about it being our last weeks together – the whole reason we play is to have fun.”

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