With time winding down in a tie game Tuesday at Ignacio High School, sophomore point guard Triston Thompson made two veteran plays that sent an already raucous gym into a frenzy.
Thompson’s play propelled the Bobcats to at least a share of the San Juan Basin League title in a thrilling 59-54 win against Mancos on Tuesday night at IHS. Ignacio and Mancos both have two league losses, and the Bobcats are finished with league play, while Mancos will have to play Telluride on Friday. Ignacio has won six league games in a row since a 59-48 road loss Jan. 15 at Mancos.
Ignacio had the ball Tuesday in a 54-54 game and planned on holding for the final shot after a tipped ball call went in favor of the Bobcats. In the final possession, Keegan Schurman made a swing pass over to Thompson while his defender was caught ball-watching. With the defender sagged off just enough, Thompson was left open and drained a 3-pointer to give the Bobcats a 57-54 lead with 19 seconds remaining. It was just one of 12 shots from 3-point range that the Bobcats would nail on the night.
After a timeout, the sophomore came through once again, as he stole a deflected inbound pass after Gabe Tuscon got an initial hand on it, and Thompson smartly dribbled until he was fouled instead of rushing a shot. He made both free throws, and the Bobcats held on to win.
Ignacio played stout defense for Mancos’ final possession, though the Bluejays got two shots off. Neither were sufficient looks.
The Bobcats (10-8, 9-2 2A/1A SJBL) responded after the game had been close for the first half. Finn scored 15 of his team’s 24 points in the first half, which included four 3-pointers and an old-fashioned three-point play.
The Showalter brothers, Caden and Connor, scored 18 of Mancos’ 25 points in the first half. Ignacio expected Hunter to battle 6-foot-7 power forward Vassar Stephens, but Stephens was not available for the big clash, and the Bobcats did not attack the paint as much as Valdez wanted.
Mancos was ahead by six to start the second half and went on a 15-4 run in a matter of minutes to take a 39-34 lead, only to have Mancos come back and score the final four baskets of the quarter, as Schurman had two 3-pointers. Mancos held a slim 45-42 lead heading into the fourth.
The two exchanged leads to start the fourth. Schmurman scored on an acrobatic circus shot and a corner-pocket 3-pointer which tied the game at 49 with 4:28 remaining.
The Bluejays (11-6, 8-2 SJBL) were led by Connor Showalter, who had 17 points, while his brother Caden had 16. The Showalters were the only players who made 3-pointers for Mancos. Chase Moore had eight points, all of which came in the second half.
Mancos will host Telluride on Friday and a win will give Mancos a share of the regular-season league title with Ignacio. The two teams are likely to meet again next week at Durango High School in the league tournament.
Mancos head coach Elijah Knepper was unavailable for comment.
The Bobcats will finish the regular season on the road against 1A foe Sierra Grande at 5 p.m. Friday.