Playing in just his third game of the season after a knee injury last fall, Mancos High School Hunter Goodwin hoped he would be able to make his senior night a memorable one.
And he did, delivering 11 points and three 3-pointers in the first quarter to help the Bluejays roll to an 84-20 victory over Nucla High School Feb. 13.
“I was crazy nervous, but I was excited to play,” Goodwin said. “I’ve been shooting while I’ve been hurt, and my shot is feeling good. It feels good to be back.”
Mancos also received offensive contributions from four players who scored in double figures and six who scored at least eight points.
Leading the way was sophomore Connor Showalter with a game-high 19 points. Senior Caden Showalter had 12 points and 11 rebounds, junior Christian Cova scored 11 points, and sophomore Edgar Hernandez and Evan Sehnert both had eight.
“You know, on senior night, it’s pretty emotional,” said Showalter. “We wanted to make it a night to remember.”
Eager to establish momentum, the Bluejays raced to a 14-0 lead, than expanded their lead to 20-4 by the end of the first quarter after a runner by Connor Showalter and an offensive rebound and put-back by Caden Showalter.
Mancos continued to dominate in the second quarter as Connor Showalter used his speed to convert three transition layups and hit a 3-pointer just before halftime to help the Bluejays build a 40-12 halftime lead.
The Bluejays didn’t let up in the third quarter, picking up its defensive intensity and outscoring Nucla 21-2.
“We knew at halftime what the score was, and I told them that next Tuesday (against Ignacio), we’re going to need to play a full 32-minute game, so we need to make that we’ve got the legs to do that,” Knepper explained.
In the fourth quarter, the Bluejays’ senior starters played one possession before being substituted out of the game while home fans expressed their appreciation in the form of ruckus cheers.
“(Our seniors) helped us produce the school’s first state tournament berth in 20 some years,” coach Elijah Knepper said. “We won our first league title in a bunch of years last year. ... They were 7-15 their freshman year, and now we’re 14-3. They’ve come a long way.”
Winners of five straight games and 8-1 in the San Juan Basin League, Mancos will prepare for a home showdown against league leader Ignacio on Feb. 18. The Bobcats handed the Bluejays a 67-61 loss earlier this year.
“We need to be able to keep our composure and defend against shooters,” Knepper said. “I’ve been worried about us more than the other team all year and that’s not going to change. We need to do what we do well and hopefully, we’ll have a great environment in the Mancos gym on Tuesday.”