Steve Lewis/Durango Herald file photo
This weekend, the inhabitants of the Durango High School gym will be decked out in a red-and-black scheme of a different stripe.
For one host, it’ll be a familiar feeling. For the other, it’ll be a weekend full of novelty and excitement.
The boys and girls basketball teams at Ignacio High School, by virtue of their district championships, will host their respective Class 2A Region 3 basketball tournaments beginning Friday at DHS.
The IHS boys will host regionals for the fifth consecutive year according to head coach Chris Valdez, so the experience is nothing new.
The girls, meanwhile, won their first San Juan Bain League and district titles in “over 20 years,” head coach Justa Whitt said Saturday. So when the Bobcats (14-7) open with Sanford (12-11) on Friday, it’ll be a new experience.
“It’s totally exciting, especially since the boys – we’re both playing together,” Whitt said Sunday. “That makes it even better.”
The boys will open with 10-12 Paonia, and with a victory would face the winner of Sargent (12-10), which Ignacio beat 60-45 earlier this year, and Lutheran (16-5) in the Sweet 16. Valdez knows a little bit about each team in the Bobcats’ bracket, and he’ll spend the week getting better acquainted with all three.
“We’re gathering information as we go,” Valdez said. “(Paonia’s) record doesn’t show real success game-wise, but they lost about nine or 10 of those games ... by seven points or less.
“Everybody’s going to have a tough time with (Lutheran) because they play in the 3A Metro League all year. We don’t have anything to measure ourselves to them. ... I don’t know how far off we are – if we’re better than them or not as good as them – but all we can do is compare.”
Whitt also will spend her week gaining knowledge on her potential opponents as the Bobcats prepare for what they hope is a deep postseason run. If Ignacio tops Sanford, the winner of Paonia (17-4) and Del Norte (14-8), Sanford’s league mate, will await them.
But the key for the Bobcats, Whitt said, is ensuring that they maintain focus on the task at hand and not get distracted by the novelty of hosting regionals or any other potential distractions.
“We’ll have to be focused this week in practice, for sure,” Whitt said. “Not focused on whether we’ll win the championship but focused on each win as it comes.
“Why look forward to the next game when we need to focus on the game right in front of us?”