Since practices began in November, the Mancos High School girls basketball team has worked tirelessly to improve its shooting, passing and defense.
On Jan. 19, their hard work paid off as the Lady Jays put together one of their finest performances in recent years and registered a 40-28 win at home. The win was Mancos’ first this season and fourth in the past two years.
“I think as a team, (this win) will help our confidence,” freshman Rhiley Morgan-Montoya said after the game. “I think it will help us know what winning feels like.”
While the 12-point spread between Mancos and Ridgway hinted at a one-sided contest, the game’s final result was anything but certain as the Lady Jays held a single-digit lead throughout much of the fourth quarter.
After Ridgway junior Anza Connaughton scored consecutive layups to cut her team’s deficit to 30-24, Jaime answered for the Lady Jays with eight points in the final six minutes.
Among the Mancos junior’s most impressive shots was a high-arcing three-pointer from the right corner that came after a baseline out-of-bounds play and put Mancos ahead 36-28 with 1:20 left in the game.
The Lady Jays also benefited from a big first half from sophomore Tia Imel, who energized her team with five second-quarter points and numerous steals.
Thanks in large part to Imel’s defense, Mancos held Ridgway scoreless for the first 6½ minutes of the second quarter and turned an 11-4 deficit at the end of the first quarter into an 18-13 halftime lead.
“We just try to stick with our plan (on defense) and play hard as a team,” Jaime said. “We try not to let (our opponents) score, and we did a good job of that tonight.”
Top scorers for Mancos included Imel, who scored 10 points, and Jaime, who chipped in eight. Sophomore Madi Hale also scored eight points, and Rhiley Morgan-Montoya and Emmalee Asnicar each had five.
Now 1-10 overall on the season and 1-3 in the San Juan Basin League, Mancos will prepare for a matchup against rival Dolores High School in Mancos on Jan. 22. Asked how her team can improve heading into its matchup against Dolores, Morgan-Montoya was clear.
“We lack communication sometimes,” the freshman said. “Tonight was better. We have our mental breakdowns, and when we do, we just need to communicate.”