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Back-to-back bronze Bobcats

Ignacio tames Simla in 3rd-place game

PUEBLO – Third place suits the Ignacio High School boys basketball team just fine.

The Bobcats have been ranked No. 3 since Jan. 19, were the No. 3 seed entering the CHSAA Class 2A State Championships and beat Simla 69-52 in the third-place game Saturday in Pueblo.

IHS (23-3) finished third for the second consecutive year.

Anthony Manzanares gave the Bobcats a 2-0 lead with a pull-up jumper on the game’s first possession, and IHS never lost the lead after that.

“The hardest thing for a day like (Saturday) is you’re already coming off a disappointment from (Friday) night, and you’ve already put everything on the line,” Simla head coach David Guy said. “You’re hoping for a good start, so maybe it gets you an edge and some energy. Playing from behind, you’re climbing up hill, and now you’re doing it through snow.”

Manzanares made a point to leave his fingerprints on the game early after fouling out of Friday’s semifinal loss to Sanford and missing much of that game on the bench with foul trouble. He was the game’s second-leading scorer with 18 points.

“It was very important (to make an impact),” said Manzanares, son of Carlos and Georgia Leon. “A lot of us were in foul trouble (Friday) night. We had to play better defense.”

The Bobcats led 7-6 after the first quarter and stretched their lead to 28-16 at halftime.

IHS guard Wyatt Hayes sparked the onslaught with a couple long 3s, finishing with a game-high 23 points.

Simla (23-4) cut its deficit to 33-28 with 3 minutes, 13 seconds remaining in the third quarter, but that was as close as the Cubs could get.

IHS ripped off a 9-0 run after that, capped off by a Manzanares 3 he set up with an entry pass to Nick Herrera between the legs of a Simla defender. It put IHS up by 10.

Simla started fouling the Bobcats on every possession it could with two minutes remaining and down eight.

“We wanted to make the game as long as we could,” Guy said. “At some point you have to realize they’re making free throws and we’re not making shots and call it off.”

The Bobcats made 18-of-25 free throws to clinch the victory. Hayes led the way, sinking 8-of-12 from the line in the final frame.

IHS used its speed to counteract Simla’s size advantage at every position.

“Their post players weren’t very fast,” said IHS senior Adison Jones, son of Greg Jones and Latisha Taylor. “We got their big guys in foul trouble.”

The Cubs’ post players also were ineffective, missing 13 shots inside 10 feet in the first half.

IHS will lose Jones and reserve guard Xavier Reynolds to graduation but still will return five out of its top six scorers.

“We’re going to be bringing a quick team back. Nick (Hererra) will be our biggest guy, and Austin (McCaw) is going to need to step into a bigger role,” IHS head coach Chris Valdez said. “We’ll be quick, but we’ll still have a little height. We’ll see.”


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