Heading into the fourth quarter of its Regional Tournament game against Sanford on March 2, the Mancos High School boys’ basketball team had victory within its reach. The Bluejays were outscored by nine points over the final eight minutes and were defeated 46-37 in the final game of their season.
Senior Caleb Yoder played all 32 minutes and scored a team-high 19 points in the final game of his high school career. Mancos led 14-11 at the end of the first quarter, trailed 24-22 at halftime and found itself tied at 28 heading into the final quarter of play.
“I’m super happy with how (our players) played, and I think that everybody worked really hard,” said Mancos head coach James Lewis. “We had some good leaders on the team who kept everybody motivated throughout the season.”
According to Lewis, Mancos’ final game of the season began on a positive note thanks to the hot shooting of sophomore Caden Showalter, who drained two 3-pointers in the opening minutes on his way to eight first-quarter points.
The Bluejays continued to hang tough in the second and third quarters despite hot shooting from Sanford players, who knocked down several 3-pointers from both corners much to the chagrin of their green-clad fans.
“(Sanford) had some guys who could hit 3-pointers, and I think they hit five or six from the corners,” Lewis said. “Our 3-2 zone has weak spots in the corners, and that’s where they got us.”
With the game tied heading into the fourth quarter, the 25th seeded Bluejays appeared primed for a big fourth-quarter run, but were undone by crucial turnovers and missed defensive assignments during the final eight minutes.
A full-quarter press by Sanford also disputed Mancos’ rhythm late in the game as the Bluejays struggled to get quality looks at the basket.
“I think that we started getting a little fatigued and (Sanford) put on lots of pressure in the fourth quarter,” Lewis said. “We had trouble getting into our offense.
Showalter scored 12 points and Jake McKie, Hunter Hoover, and Griff Huver each scored 2 points for the Bluejays.
Mancos finished its season with a 15-7 record overall, while Sanford advanced to the Class 2A State Tournament after defeating Sedwick County, 42-39, in the Class 2A Region 8 Championship on March 3.
“We need people to work on their shooting form and we need to work on our confidence,” said Lewis, when asked about his team’s goals for the offseason. “With the summer ball and with open gyms throughout the summer, I think we’re going to be unstoppable next year.”