After four victories in five road games, the Mancos High School boys basketball team opened its home schedule at the Mancos Performance Center eager to impress its home fans.
Hosting Telluride on Dec. 14, the Bluejays relied on stout defense and opportunistic offense to lock down a 45-21 victory.
Freshman forward Caden Showalter led the Bluejays with 16 points, senior shooting guard Caleb Yoder contributed 14 points, and five other Mancos players scored thanks an offensive attack that featured deft cuts and consistent ball movement.
“We’re a lot more confident with the ball this year,” Yoder said. “We’re able to swing the ball around the perimeter and just be confident out there.”
In addition to the Bluejays’ efficient offensive attack, stout defense played a significant role in the victory as first-year head coach James Lewis mixed man-to-man defense with a zone scheme to keep the Telluride offense on its heels.
Point guard Christian Cova was especially active on the defensive end as the freshman picked up numerous steals, including two early in the second quarter that led to fast-break layups by senior Jake McKie and Showalter and gave Mancos a 16-5 lead.
“The players are going out there and doing what they are supposed to (on defense),” said Lewis, when asked about his team’s defense. “They are communicating and really watching the help side. We have strong leadership at the top of the key with Caleb (Yoder) and all of our players are doing a great job.”
Ahead 24-13 entering the locker room at halftime, Mancos extended its lead to 34-15 by the end of the third quarter thanks to more solid defense and several smooth jump shots by Yoder, who scored six-points in the frame.
Offensive rebounding by Bluejays also played a key role in the Mancos victory as Showalter ripped several boards away from overmatched Telluride defenders and scored six second-chance points in the third-quarter alone.
“On the inside, boards are everything,” Showalter said. “If you get the boards, you can put it back up and keep the other team from scoring. I was able to use my body a lot to make space.”
Ahead 22 points late in the fourth quarter, Mancos brought home fans to their feet one final time when Cova came up with a steal and delivered a perfect pass ahead to Peyton Suazo, whose fast break layup put Mancos ahead 41-19.
“The high school game is a lot faster, and players play smarter,” said freshman Cova. “It’s important to get into the passing lanes and get out on the fast break.”
With the victory, Mancos improved to 5-1 on the season and 1-0 in the San Juan Basin League. The Bluejays will play their final game before Christmas break in Ignacio on Dec. 19.