Although the scoreboard showed the Mancos High School boys basketball team on the wrong end of a 16-point deficit, the game could have gone either way.
Thus, while the Mancos' 66-49 season-ending loss to Paonia in the regional tournament was disappointing, the game provided hope for the Bluejays' future.
Clearly fired up to play in the Region 5 tournament, the Bluejays gave Paonia all they could handle during a competitive first quarter that ended with Mancos trailing 12-11.
Benefiting the Bluejays in the first quarter was the team's ability to push the pace and score easy layups.
"I thought we were transitioning well in the first quarter," said Bluejays' head coach Rodney Cox.
Things quickly fell apart in the second quarter as the Bluejays fell behind 37-22 entering the half.
Although the Bluejays managed to outscore the Paonia 18-15 in the third quarter, the halftime deficit proved too much to overcome as the Bluejays were outscored 14-9 in the final quarter.
Leading the Bluejays in scoring were junior Daniel Christensen and sophomore Adrian Hernandez, who each chipped in 12.
Senior Kyle Cox suffered an ankle injury in his final high school game while senior Ty Koppenhafer contributed 2 points. Senior Bryan Jaime was scoreless.
"The leadership that (the seniors) demonstrated and modeled, I think the younger kids caught on to that stuff," said Cox.
Concluding their season with a 15-8 record, the Bluejays will look ahead to next season. With four of five starters returning and several players eager to improve, their future appears bright.
"I think they're hungry," said Cox of his underclassmen. "Next year could be a very good one for this group. I'm excited."