Bears lack of experience gets them in the end

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 5:13 PM
Journal/ Sam Green
Tyler Weir grabs a rebound Friday night against Ignacio at Montezuma-Cortez High School.
Journal/ Sam Green
Cody Carroll steals the ball Friday night against Ignacio at Montezuma-Cortez High School.

The No. 4-seed Dolores Bears basketball team had its season end at Montezuma-Cortez High School in the 2A San Juan Basin League district tournament on Friday and Saturday, losing to Ignacio, 72-44, and falling late to Ridgway, 51-41.

Dolores (6-16, 4-8 2A SJBL) had the ultimate tough task of taking on No. 1-seed Ignacio (19-2, 12-0 2A SJBL) in the first-round. The Bears played right with the Bobcats for the first 16 minutes and only trailed 30-27 at halftime. But the veteran experience of Ignacio took over, and the team pulled away in the second half for a big win.

“For two quarters, we played with the No. 3 (2A) team in the state,” Dolores High School Justin Schmitt said. “It was just a matter of which team had more experience. They have a team full of seniors that have been playing together for a long time. We didn’t.”

Cody Carroll had a team high 18 points, and Austin Blackmer scored 13.

The game with third-seeded Ridgway (11-10, 9-7 2A SJBL) on Saturday was a rematch between the two teams from a week earlier in a contest won by the Demons, 62-45 in Dolores.

Blackmer and Carroll scored on offensive rebounds to start the game and gave the Bears an early 4-2 lead. Tyler Weir hit a 10-foot turnaround jumper and Tyler Underwood scored on a fast-break, and the lead was 8-2. Demons coach Paul Fouts called timeout to slow the Bears’ energy down. Dolores kept up the intensity with Underwood scoring three more points, but Ridgway got back-to-back buckets from Sawyer Firkins and Joshua Croizier to cut the Bears lead to 11-8 after the first quarter.

Croizier tied the game on his first 3-pointer to open the second quarter. Schmitt was not pleased and called timeout with the scored knotted at 11 apiece.

Michael Neubert halted the 7-0 Ridgway run with a triple, and Carroll got the shooters bounce on the baseline. The Dolores lead was now 16-11. The Bears increased the lead when Blackmer hit a jumper in the paint off an assist from Austin McCracken to go up seven. On the next Dolores possession, Carroll gave his group their biggest lead at 21-11 after nailing his second from downtown.

Aaron Radovanovic stopped the 10-0 DHS run with a layup inside. After a Carroll free throw, Julio Avila hit a jump shot in the paint to cut the score to 22-15, but Underwood tipped in a miss to make it 24-15. Ridgway’s Quinn Strickler would hit a shot just inside the 3-point line at the second quarter buzzer to cut the Dolores lead to 24-17 at the break.

Dolores opened the third quarter with that same fire it had in the first by scoring three quick points to go up 10 at 27-17.

Radovanovic added a pair of free throws, and then things got a bit chippy. Both teams had their emotions flaring and were sloppy with the ball before Schmitt called timeout for DHS with an eight-point lead.

Weir made consecutive baskets and Dustin woodruff and Firkins made a jump shot and a free throw. Croizier made a 3-pointer to cut the Bears lead to 31-25, but Weir answered with a big 10-footer to put his team up 33-25.

Ridgway came back with a free throw and a Tanner Skilla driving shot to get within 33-28. Firkins would later score inside to make it a 33-30 game heading into the fourth quarter for the right to stay alive.

Carroll put the Bears back up five with a 10-foot jumper, but Avila went on an 8-2 run for the Demons and Ridgway regained the lead, 38-37.

Underwood got the lead right back for Dolores with a driving layup, and the score was 39-38 with 4:30 left. But the Bears had no answer for Avila, and he put the Demons back up one on their next trip down the floor. Rodovanovic made 1 of 2 at the line, and Ridgway led 41-39 with just over two minutes remaining. Avila doubled that lead by getting past Weir. Carroll and Avila exchanged 2-pointers, and the Demons led 45-41 with 1:21 remaining when Schmitt called another timeout.

Out of the timeout, Firkins picked Blackmer’s pocket and the Bears had to start fouling. The Demons hit six free throws in the final minute to post the win.

“Early in the game, we were clicking on all cylinders,” Schmitt said. “We weren’t turning the ball over. We were moving the ball well. We played outstanding defense and held them to 17 points in that half. In the fourth quarter, our inexperience reared its head again. When the intensity increased, as happens in close games down the stretch, we didn’t keep our heads.”

Carroll had a team high 14 points for Dolores, while Underwood and Weir had 10 apiece.

“We kind of proved we could play with the teams, we just couldn’t finish. We can’t play a whole game,” Underwood said. “We need more time outside the season. We can’t just start playing. We kind of pulled it together at the end, but it was not enough.”

Avila had a game high 18 points and Croizier poured in 11.

Sophomores Carroll and Blackmer return for the Bears next year, as well as Weir, a freshman.

Reach Bobby Abplanalp at