Led by 6-foot-6 seniors Vassar Stephens and Hunter Hoover, 6-foot-5 junior Caden Showalter and 6-foot-3 freshman Connor Showalter, the Bluejays have had a tendency to obliterate teams with their length and rebounding prowess.
What may surprise Mancos’ opponents during the Class 2A Region 6 Tournament however, is just how athletic and multidimensional the Bluejays roster is: Nearly every player can handle the ball and drop bombs from beyond the 3-point arc.
While No. 6 seed Mancos will almost certainly enter this weekend’s tournament as a heavy favorite, No. 27 Center High School, No. 11 seed Heritage Christian High School and No. 22 Akron High School each present unique challenges and could make things interesting for the Bluejays.
Below are a few things for fans to watch for when Mancos takes the court for its most important contests in recent memory.
Center serves as familiar foeWhen Mancos tips off the Class 2A Region 6 Tournament against Center at 6 p.m. Friday, individual matchups and team strategies will be somewhat familiar to players on both sides given that the two teams played earlier this season.
Although Mancos won that matchup 55-39 on Dec. 14, another second successful outcome for the Bluejays is far from guaranteed given the skill level of Center junior Devin Porres, who is averaging 16.8 points per game this season.
Unlike many opposing players that Mancos can swallow with its size, Porres may not be bothered by the Bluejays’ length as the 5-foot-7, 145-pound speedster has the speed and quickness to maneuver around the long arms of his opponent.
Complementing Porres on the offensive end for Center will be sophomore Habran De la Cruz, who averaged 11.5 points per game this season and knocked down 28 of his 87 3-point field goal attempts.
While Center will likely try to create turnovers with pressure defense and score points in transition, Mancos’ talent level will likely be too much for the Vikings to overcome during what fans can expect to be a Bluejays’ win by double digits.
Heritage Christian or Akron looking to score upsetIn the event that Mancos defeats Center on Friday, the Bluejays will face the winner of a contest between Heritage Christian (17-5 overall, 9-3 in Mile High League) and Akron (12-10 overall, 4-2 in Lower Platte League) in the regional championship at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Among Heritage Christian’s most talented players is senior Josiah Bowsher, who averaged 17.5 point per game. Akron is led by senior Isaiah Herder, who averaged 13.9 points per game over the seven Akron games for which statistics were available.
If Mancos advances to the Class 2A Region 6 Championship, expect the Bluejays to lean heavily on leading scorers Caden Showalter (15.7 ppg) and Stephens (15.0 ppg) in their attempt to qualify for the Class 2A State Tournament.
It is highly likely that Connor Showalter’s long-range shooting could also have a significant impact on a championship game as the freshman converted an almost unbelievable 54 of his 82 3-point field goal attempts this season.
While it is difficult to predict outcomes in Class 2A Regional Tournaments, one certainty is that local fans lucky enough to gain entry to the Mancos Performance Center this weekend will be in for a treat.
This year’s Mancos team is special.