Ask, and answer

Steve Lewis/Durango Herald

Ignacio sophomore Kelton Richmond was part of the Bobcats’ long-range brigade Friday night. He hit one of the Bobcats’ 13 3-pointers in a 67-54 victory over Crowley County in the regional semifinals.

By Dale Strode Herald staff writer

All he had to do was ask.

Ignacio High School boys basketball coach Chris Valdez asked his team to take the outside shots Friday night in the Class 2A regional semifinals against Crowley County.

Then Valdez told the Bobcats to show some confidence and make those wide-open, long-range shots.

And they did.

The Bobcats, facing a defense that swarmed around senior center Shane Richmond like Honeyville bees, hit 13 shots from beyond the 3-point line to beat Crowley County 67-54 and eliminate the Chargers from the 2A state playoffs for the second consecutive year.

“We knew we needed to hit the 3s and come up big for our team,” Ignacio sophomore point guard Clayton Jefferson said after making a career-high five 3-pointers for the Bobcats (18-4).

“They knew Portis (Shane Richmond) is our top scorer; they weren’t really paying attention to us (on the outside). It gave our guards a chance to shine,” said Jefferson, son of Robert and Tina Jefferson.

Teammate Xavier Watts added three treys. Matthew Silva hit two. Kelton Richmond hit one. And freshman Adison Jones hit two from the baseline corners in the first quarter. Five different Bobcats converted 3-pointers. Four finished in double figures.

“I think it was mostly just confidence and lots of shooting in practice this week,” Jefferson said of the Bobcats’ improved long-range accuracy. They were only 2 of 23 from the 3-point line in the district finals against Ridgway last weekend.

“We weren’t shooting very well (coming into the game), but we knew we had to ... be confident and shoot,” he said.

The big crowd at the Durango High School gym boosted their confidence further, Jefferson said.

“Our confidence was sky-high (Friday night).”

Jefferson led all scorers with 20 points.

Shane Richmond, the Bobcats’ leading scorer on the season, added 13 points in spite of Crowley County’s double- and triple-teams on defense.

“Everybody is going to key on Shane,” the Ignacio head coach said of the Bobcats’ 26-points-per-game scorer.

“Finally, the other guys are like ... we’re wide open. Let’s shoot,” Valdez said. “And we were wide open. Nobody is guarding us (outside) because they are all guarding him (Richmond),” Valdez said.

“Our guys took it to heart, got focused ... and then when you’re hitting 3s, it gets contagious,” he said.

“Matthew (Silva) hadn’t hit one in a while, but he was so wide open. He hit one of the first ones that really got us going,” Valdez said after the Bobcats led from late in the first quarter.

Crowley County stayed close through the first three quarters behind sophomore guard Nathan Baylor and senior center Cory Robinette.

Baylor led the Chargers (15-8) with 19 points and seven boards.

Robinette added 13 points. Senior point guard Elijah Martinez hit two 3-pointers for the Chargers from Ordway.

Watts added 11 points for IHS.

Jones finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double in the regional semifinal in the friendly confines of the DHS gym.

Ignacio finished with more 3-point field goals (13) than 2-point field goals (10).

The Bobcats will play for their fourth consecutive regional title in the DHS gym at 2:30 p.m. today against the winner of the Sanford-West Grand semifinal played late Friday night at DHS.

“Looming over our head is that bad shooting performance last week ... that was on a Saturday,” Valdez said. “We’ve got to ... come out shooting again, and go from there.”

The Class 2A girls regional title game at DHS (1 p.m. today) will feature Ridgway (17-4)against Del Norte (17-6). Ridgway advanced Friday with a 62-47 win over Hoehne behind 35 points from Candice Yengst, and Del Norte defeated Meeker 63-46.

dstrode@durangoherald.com

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