Coming off a lopsided defeat, the Dolores Bears boys basketball team entered their Jan. 18 contest against Nucla desperate for a win.
Such desperation paid off for the Bears, who, playing with energy and grit, defeated the Mustangs 71-36 in front of a near-capacity Dolores crowd.
Looking every bit the dominant team from the opening tip, the Bears utilized a full-court press to force countless Nucla turnovers, which in turn were converted into several fast-break buckets.
Facilitating many of those buckets was junior Mikeal Ford, who scored a game-high 25 points.
"We did what we needed to do," said Ford, who highlighted his big night by drilling consecutive three-pointers to begin the third quarter. "We executed our press and things went as planned."
Also playing well for the Bears was Ben Lykins, who, demonstrating strength down low, pulled several offensive rebounds on his way to 16 points.
"We've been working on getting physical all year," said Lykins. "We're not one of the tallest teams in the league, but we can fight for the ball."
Such fight proved vital for the Bears, who, after taking a 17-7 lead at the end of the first quarter, expanded their lead to 42-22 at halftime.
After continuing to apply pressure during a third quarter that ended with the Bears leading 63-27, Dolores emptied its bench during the fourth quarter and coasted to victory.
"We worked all week on moving the ball," said clearly pleased Bears' head coach Larry Schwartz. "They listened and they did real well."
With their record now at 4-5 on the year, the Bears will return to the practice floor before facing off against Ouray in Dolores on Jan. 24.