Heading into her team’s home game against Dolores High School on Tuesday, Mancos High School girls basketball team star Madi Hale wanted to deliver a victory to her senior teammates.
Driven by that desire, the junior took the court and delivered one of the finest performances of her prep career, which was highlighted by 20 points and 12 rebounds, to help the Lady Jays upset the Lady Bears, 48-37.
“We lost to (Dolores) twice earlier this year and we really wanted to go out there and get a win for our seniors,” Hale said. “They might not get to (play Dolores) again.”
While the back-and-forth matchup remained competitive early on, with the Lady Bears leading 10-8 at the end of the first quarter and the Lady Jays leading 22-20 at halftime, Mancos gave itself some breathing room during a third quarter that ended with the Lady Jays leading 34-28.
Keying Mancos’ third-quarter run were Hale and senior Isis Jaime, who shot the ball with confidence, attacked the rim with reckless abandon, and scored six points and five points, respectively, in the third quarter.
Perhaps the biggest shot of the game came late in the third quarter when Hale confidently knocked down a long jump shot from the right wing and excitedly screamed in the direction of a group of Mancos students as she sprinted back on defense.
“(The crowd) helped a lot,” Hale said. “Just hearing them cheer for us and having their support helped our game.”
Up by six points to begin the fourth quarter, Mancos players knew they would likely need to deal with one last Dolores run, and sure enough, that run began in the form of two consecutive baskets by Lady Bears’ junior Samantha Castillo during the first minute of the quarter.
A layup along the baseline by sophomore Rhiley Montoya preserved the Mancos lead at 36-32, however, and a powerful layup by Hale and two free throws by Jaime minutes later made the score 40-34 with 1:33 left in the game.
“Dolores is our rival and, of course, we wanted to win,” Jaime said. “We worked really hard, and I’m just really glad that I had my team with me.”
Ahead by six points but not completely out of the woods, the Lady Jays secured their victory with solid free throw shooting as junior Tia Imel, Jaime and Hale each knocked down two free throws during the final minute.
Elated by her team’s impressive late-game free throw shooting and overall attention to detail, Mancos head coach Kerri Morgan smiled when asked about the significance of her team’s second San Juan Basin League victory of the season.
“We just really focused on the little things and the little moments,” the head coach said. “If you focus on the little things, they turn into big things. Throughout 32 minutes of basketball, we did what we needed to do.”
In addition to Hale’s 20 points, Mancos received nine points from Jaime, seven points from senior Kasey Wallace, four points from Morgan-Montoya, three points from senior Ammalee Asnicar and Imel and two points from junior Lizzy Mee.
Dolores was led offensively by senior McKenzie Howerton, who scored 14 points, and Castillo, who scored 10.
With its record now at 2-14 overall and 2-6 in the SJBL, Mancos will look to continue its winning ways when it plays at home against Nucla High School on Feb. 13. Dolores, which is 6-10 overall and 4-5 in the SJBL, will play at home against Telluride on Feb. 15.