Seeded fourth entering the Class 2A District 3 Tournament, the Mancos High School boys basketball team was not supposed to advance to regionals.
Three games and two wins later, the Bluejays stamped their ticket to the Class 2A Region 3 Tournament, which will begin in Palisade on March 7.
Bluejays crush Dolores
Opening districts in Mancos on Feb. 25, the Bluejays squared off against Dolores High School for the third time this season.
Fighting through the Bears' efforts to slow the game to a standstill, the Bluejays eventually pulled away, routing the Bears 51-23.
Throughout the early stages of the contest, the Bears did their best to keep the ball out of the hands of the vaunted Mancos offense, often extending possessions more than two minutes before taking a shot.
Impatient with the pace of the game, Bluejays defenders extended well beyond the three point line early on, only to be burned by Dolores guard Mikeal Ford, who scored seven during a first quarter that ended with the Bluejays leading 19-13.
Falling back into a zone defense in the second quarter, the Bluejays allowed Dolores to maintain the slow pace and after a low scoring second quarter, the score favored the Bluejays 27-19 at halftime.
Although the Bears continued to slow the pace in the third quarter, the Bluejays lead eventually made a stall offense impossible to maintain and after falling behind 34-23 entering the fourth, the Bears attempted to push the pace only to be crushed by the Bluejays offense.
Outscoring Dolores 17-0 in the final frame, the Bluejays, paced by 15 points from Ro Paschal and 11 points from Nigel Henry, coasted to an easy victory.
Bluejays fall to Ignacio
Facing a far tougher opponent in the second round of the District Tournament, the Bluejays faced off against Ignacio in Cortez on Feb. 28.
Clearly outmanned by the state's top ranked 2A team, the Bluejays were dominated from start to finish, losing 55-29.
Providing a lone high point in the loss was Bluejays guard Jayden Peacock, who, after drilling a first quarter three to cut Ignacio's lead to 15-9, went on to score five more points in the contest.
Clearly impressed by Ignacio's skill level, Peacock took a moment to discuss his team's tough opponents after the contest.
"They're really physical on defense and they also shoot very well from the three point line," said Peacock. "Whoever matches up with them is going to have a hard time guarding their guards."
Bluejays defeat Ridgway
Matching up against Ridgway with a berth in the regional tournament on the line, the Bluejays exacted revenge on an opponent that had defeated them twice this season, winning 73-56 on March 1.
Playing well from the opening tip, the Bluejays jumped out to a 9-0 first quarter lead after a layup by Adrian Hernandez, a layup by Paschal, two free throws from Hernandez and a free throw by Peacock.
Although Ridgeway would battle back to cut the Bluejays' lead to 16-9 entering the second quarter, Mancos maintained it lead, entering halftime ahead 31-28.
After an even start to the third quarter, the Bluejays then begin to pull away, taking a 48-39 lead on a pretty reverse layup by Henry with just over two minutes left in the quarter.
The Bluejays would extend their lead to 53-43 later in the quarter after Hernandez drilled a high arcing three.
Playing some of their best basketball of the season during the fourth quarter, the Bluejays were never threatened as the team locked up a spot in regionals.
Key in the Bluejays win was a balanced attack led by Paschal (15 points), Brandon Hood (15 points) and Hernandez (13 points).
"We came out and got it when it mattered," said Hood. "We just have to keep the momentum going."
Next up for Mancos will be a regional matchup against Paonia in Palisade on March 7.
"I think we just want to go up there and play our hardest," said Paschal.
"We're just going to go see what happens," added Bluejays' head coach Rodney Cox.