Top coach, top player

Valdez and Richmond honored by the San Juan Basin League

Ignacio senior Shane Richmond averaged 26 points and eight rebounds per game this year, earning conference player of the years honors. Enlarge photo

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald file photo

Ignacio senior Shane Richmond averaged 26 points and eight rebounds per game this year, earning conference player of the years honors.

Ignacio’s Chris Valdez, the dean of boys basketball coaches in the San Juan Basin League, was honored by his peers this month when he was named the SJBL Coach of the Year for 2011-12.

Valdez, who completed his 12th season as the Ignacio boys head coach, was selected the conference coach of the year in voting by the San Juan Basin basketball coaches.

Valdez led the Ignacio boys to an 18-5 record and the cusp of the CHSAA Class 2A Boys Basketball State Tournament in Pueblo. It was the fourth consecutive year Valdez led the Bobcats to the San Juan Basin League regular-season and district tournament titles.

Ignacio senior Shane Richmond, who dominated the conference offensively with his 26-point per game average, was selected the San Juan Basin League Player of the Year. Richmond also averaged eight rebounds per game.

Joining Richmond on the all-conference team were teammates Adison Jones, a freshman, and Clayton Jefferson, a junior.

Other first team all-conference selections were Tanner Skalla and Harley Ryder, two seniors from Ridgway, junior Cody Carrol of Dolores and senior Fischer Hazen of Telluride.

Two Mancos players, senior Kenny Philpot and freshman Nigel Henry, were voted honorable mentions.

Ridgway’s veteran girls basketball coach coach Steve Hill also was voted Coach of the Year.

Ridgway senior Candice Yengst was voted Player of the Year after leading Ridgway to a 17-5 record. The Demons lost in the regional championship game at Durango High School to Del Norte, one game short of the state tournament.

Senior Jenna Beamer of Ridgway joined Yengst on the All-SJBL team.

Telluride’s Emy Ludwig, Sarah Wontrobski and Josephine Bush also were voted to the all-league team this year. Ludwig and Bush are seniors; Wontrobski is a junior.

Cydni McHenry (junior) and Caitlin McGee (senior) of Dolores were voted to the all-conference team along with Mancos senior Erika Blackburn.

Hill is unique among Colorado high school coaches. He ranks among the top 12 in victories in both boys and girls basketball.

Hill coached the Ridgway boys from 1964-98, posting a total of 488 wins – second all time in Colorado to the recently retired Dick Katte of Denver Christian.

Hill’s boys teams won 15 league titles and played in 12 state tournaments.

Hill also holds the Colorado state record of 74 consecutive victories, which came as part of two consecutive Ridgway boys state championships. He currently ranks No. 12 in girls coaching victories with more than 250.

Hill coached both boys and girls basketball at Ridgway from 1976-98, when he retired. He came out of retirement last year to again coach the Ridgway girls.