Before tipping off against Ignacio High School on Jan. 10, members of the Dolores High School girls basketball team appeared focused and energized.
A spate of early turnovers quickly sapped the Lady Bears’ confidence, however, and after Ignacio sharpshooter Jayden Brunson started knocking down three-pointers, it was all but over as the Bobcats pulled away for a 67-20 victory.
“Early in the game, we were pumped up and fired up,” Dolores senior Cameron Schafer said. “We had just had our pep talk, and we were ready. ... We really wanted to beat (Ignacio), but our confidence slowly went down.”
The play of forward Tatum Majors was a bright spot as the senior pulled down numerous rebounds and scored a team-high 10 points.
Dolores’ play during the early portions of the game also was encouraging as the Lady Bears cut their deficit to 12-7 late in the first quarter after a three-pointer from the left corner from McKenzie Howerton. The first quarter ended with Ignacio leading 14-7.
Howerton finished the contest with five points.
“I think that we can be a state (tournament) team for sure,” Schafer said, when asked what her team could take away from their strong performance early on. “I think almost any team can be a state team. It’s all about confidence and how well (players) work together.”
If the Lady Bears are to make a postseason run however, the team will need to vastly improve its defense, which allowed Brunson to hit seven three-point field goals over the first three quarters and score a game-high 23 points.
The Ignacio sophomore was almost unstoppable, consistently finding open areas on the floor and shooting with precision. Among Brunson’s most impressive three-pointers was a bomb from two steps behind the left wing that put the Bobcats ahead 56-18.
“(Brunson) is a good player, I will admit that,” Schafer said. “(Ignacio) has a lot of (shooters) out there. You can get in their face, and they’ll shoot the ball. It doesn’t matter how close you are, they’ll go around you and shoot it.”
A day after its game against Ignacio, the Lady Bears traveled to Ridgway on Jan. 11. Dolores then returned home for a game against Telluride on Jan. 12.
Next up for the Lady Bears will be a home game against Dove Creek on Jan. 15.
“We need to keep working on our defense,” Schafer said. “We work on (defense) every day in practice, but we get inside our own heads, and we get flustered and frustrated. We need to be there for each other and support each other.”