Ignacio’s title drought ends in a ‘thing of beauty’

Kelton Richmond hung a 30-year drought on his jump shot.

The Ignacio High School boys basketball team trailed 57-56 to Shiprock after a Chieftains’ put-back score with 11 seconds left in the championship game of Webb Toyota Basin Tournament in Kirtland, N.M., on Saturday night.

Then, with a full court to work with, the Bobcats worked the ball around before Wyatt Hayes found Richmond, who drove down the middle of the paint and put a short jumper up on the glass.

The shot dropped and so did Ignacio’s 30-year Webb Toyota Basin championship famine as the Bobcats won 58-57.

“Our young kids just matured,” Ignacio head coach Chris Valdez said of his team, which has just one senior. “They focused. They didn’t let the game get away from them.

“It was a thing of beauty. It was one of the best games out of a young team I’ve seen in a long time.”

Against the face-paced transition team, Valdez said his high-low defense slowed down Shiprock’s attack and allowed the Bobcats to hang with the Chieftains, who shot better than 65 percent in the first half to build a 20-8 lead in the first quarter before Ignacio whittled it to a two-point deficit at half.

“They were lights out,” he said. “To stay that close was just remarkable.”

But the Bobcats didn’t panic; Hayes, a freshman, led the scoring with 15, followed by 12 each from Richmond and Clayton Jefferson and eight apiece from Adison Jones and Justin Carver.

“Adison Jones again claimed the rebounding area,” Valdez said.

“He just stayed on the boards.”

Jefferson was named the tournament MVP, while Wyatt earned all-tournament honors, but Valdez said those awards also could’ve gone to any of his Bobcats (3-0).

“I think it’s about how well our team jells and holds together down the stretch, and it was a really nice thing to see from our young team,” Valdez said.

heraldsports@durangoherald.com

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