For the first three quarters of the Class 2A District 3 Championship on Feb. 24, Mancos High School matched perennial powerhouse Ignacio step for step. The Bluejays were outscored 14-0 over the game’s final eight minutes, however, and lost, 45-30.
The Bluejays’ scoring drought began at the start of the fourth quarter after sophomore Anthony Medina sank a free throw late in the third quarter for a 30-30 tie.
Moments later, however, Ignacio head coach Chris Valdez instructed his team to implement its vaunted three-quarter press, and from then on, the game changed as Mancos consistently turned the ball over and the Bobcats capitalized.
“We stopped running our offense, our defense started to fall apart a little bit, I don’t really know,” Mancos head coach James Lewis said. “At the end, we just sort of forgot about (our game plan), and it all just fell apart.”
While the Bluejays’ late-game collapse doomed their chance at a district championship, the team’s play over the game’s first three quarters stood out.
Trailing 10-7 at the end of the first quarter and 20-7 midway through the second, Mancos was sparked by sophomore Anthony Medina, who came off the bench and energized his team with six second-quarter points and stout defensive play.
After Caleb Yoder pulled down an offensive rebound and scored, and Medina scored on a breakaway with under a minute to go in the second quarter, the Bluejays entered the locker room trailing 24-22 much to the chagrin of local fans, who serenaded their team with cheers.
“We just had good team chemistry in the first half,” Medina said. “We weren’t selfish with the ball, and we took good shots and we kept up with (Ignacio). After halftime, we didn’t come out as hyped as we usually do, and that played a big role in our failure.”
Scoring leaders for Mancos included Caleb Yoder, who scored 13 points, Medina, who chipped in seven, and Christian Cova, who scored four.
Notably absent from the scoring column for much of the game was sophomore big-man Caden Showalter, who was held to a season-low 2 points and failed to convert a field goal.
“A few of our key players were missing open shots,” Lewis said. “Caleb (Yoder) and Caden (Showalter) couldn’t get into a rhythm in the second half, and the whole team kind of started going downhill.”
Scoring leaders for Ignacio included Cruz Prado, who scored 15 points, and Johnny Valdez, who scored 10. Keegan Schurman chipped in 10 for the Bobcats.
Regardless of which regional tournament the Bluejays end up in, players will look to keep their season alive and earn themselves a spot in the Class 2A State Tournament.
“We just have to keep our heads up and play ball like we usually do,” Medina said.
“Hopefully we can get to state.”