Trailing visiting Bayfield by five after the first quarter inside IHS Gymnasium and 10 after Wolverine senior Jackson Queen sank a 3-pointer with 4:54 left in the second, Ignacio’s boys, hoping to steal a Senior Night win on Saturday, suddenly sprang into action.
Sparked by junior guard Phillip Quintana’s two 3-pointers and a breakaway layup from junior guard Devante Montoya, the Bobcats rallied to tie the score at 17-17 before Queen cashed a trey just before the halftime buzzer.
The ‘Cats stilled had some momentum after the 10-minute intermission and at last forged ahead, 22-20, early in the third quarter via Quintana’s third triple.
“The past few games … my confidence wasn’t that high – for shooting threes – but in my head I just thought, ‘Hey I’m going to make them today,’” Quintana said. “And sure enough, I made all the threes I shot, pretty much – only missed, like, three.”
“Senior Night definitely helped a lot,” he said. “The speech from my brother got my confidence up, really helped me.”
Hard as it became to believe, the two-point lead was IHS’ only … and last.
A non-factor during the first half, Bayfield senior Lance Mazur nailed a three to regain the upper hand in the 3A/4A Intermountain League clash. Queen – still red-hot after a 14-point first half that featured four treys – followed with another. Mazur then landed yet another bomb, and Queen did likewise with 3:44 still remaining in the quarter.
IHS skipper Chris Valdez took a timeout in hopes of stopping the run, but Wolverine senior forward/center Caden Wood answered by swishing a surprise three – inflating BHS’ lead to 36-22 with 2:18 to go.
“Caden takes a lot of jokes and a lot of teasing … but he’s a good shooter,” Bayfield head coach Scott Key said. “We knew he could make that shot if he was wide-open. They started to key on Jackson, and I said, ‘If they don’t think you can shoot, spot up when you’re open and knock it down.’”
“We knew that was it right there,” Wood said. “We came out of halftime and every shot just started falling for us. Once our shots started falling we knew no team could hang with us at that point.”
“I thought we’d really come to life,” Valdez said. “Got down by about 10 there … and made a nice run to get within three at halftime, then came out and hit two shots in a row. And then the wheels kind of fell off. When our defense is tight we can stay with anybody, but when our defense starts falling apart … against a good team like this – they’ve got three or four guys who can knock it down – that’s it.”
Senior Eppie Quintana closed out the third by cleaning up a Phillip Quintana miss, trimming the deficit down to 40-27, but despite the younger Quintana canning his fourth and fifth 3-pointers during the deciding eight minutes, Bayfield got four more Mazur points and as many from sophomore guard Lincoln Williams in winning the final frame, 10-6, and the game, 50-33.
“We were definitely coming in here a little bit fatigued and tired,” Wood said, alluding to BHS’ 55-38 loss at Centauri the previous night. “But, you’ve just got to come in here, push through it to come out with a win helping out the team. We were turning the ball over on stupid stuff and once we fixed that it just changed things a lot.”
Queen made six threes and finished with a game-high 20 points for the Wolverines (8-9 overall, 2-6 IML). Mazur booked 14 points in support. Williams totaled eight points and Wood four, as did junior guard Devin Cundiff – given a starting spot with senior Max Meyers performing at the 71st Annual Colorado All-State Orchestra in Fort Collins.
“We knew we were walking into a Senior Night – always extremely emotional – and usually Ignacio has one of the greatest home crowds there is,” Key said. “We knew from the get-go that we had to take the crowd out of the game. It didn’t start off as fast as we would have hoped, but they struggled as well. There was a lot of energy in here, guys were overplaying, but we kind of settled down and, you know, good things started to happen. At halftime we made some big adjustments and put the pedal down, got what we needed done, done.”
In a battle where neither team scored for the first miscue-marred 4:15 (Queen then got things going with a three), Phillip Quintana – bouncing back from a zero-point showing in the previous night’s 54-37 loss to Pagosa Springs – totaled 17 points in defeat.
Junior center/forward Gabe Cox scrapped for seven, Eppie Quintana totaled four, Montoya managed three and senior Dylan McCaw two – after netting 10 against the Pirates, just behind Cox’s 12.
“I thought we came out with the Senior/Parent Night thing just starry-eyed, we couldn’t hit a shot,” Valdez said. “And they were missing wide-open shots – neither of us was guarding the other that first quarter, and still we couldn’t score.”
“We don’t have any consistent guys right now,” Valdez continued. “Phillip did a good job today, so if we can get him to be consistent then we’ll try to find somebody else on Tuesday, then Friday. Hopefully by the end of the year, we’ll go to the district tournament good enough to stay with some of these teams. We’ll work on it, not give up and keep moving forward.”
Stuck in an eight-game slide after a winless January, the Bobcats (3-12, 0-7 IML) will continue league play hosting Montezuma-Cortez (6-9, 2-5) on Friday. Centauri, CHSAANow.com’s No. 4 ranked team in Class 3A, will come to town the next evening to conclude a rugged week. Results from IHS’ game Tuesday at nonleague Dove Creek – up a notch to No. 4 in this week’s Class 1A rankings – were unavailable at press time.
Bayfield, meanwhile, will continue IML work Friday at home versus 4A No. 8 Pagosa Springs (14-4, 5-3).
“Definitely going in there with good confidence, we’re feeling good right now as a team,” Wood said.
“Our league is just so tough that any win’s a good win,” Key said. “And we’re trying to build some momentum, get into the tournament and just see how things shake out.”