It wasn’t pretty for the Ignacio High School boys basketball team, but any win in the Colorado High School Activities Association boys basketball state tournament is hard to come by.
That was the case Friday in the Class 2A Region 4 semifinals Friday in Mancos against No. 20 Dolores Huerta Prep, as the No. 13 Bobcats nearly gave up a 24-point lead. Ignacio held on for a 72-67 win over the Scorpions to set up an all-San Juan Basin League regional championship, as No. 4 Mancos took care of business against No. 29 Hoehne 70-56 in the other semifinal.
Ignacio and Mancos will meet for the fourth time this season in Saturday’s regional championship game. Tip off is at 11 a.m. in Mancos for a spot in the Great 8 state tournament next week in Loveland.
“We did what we had to get ahead early, and we hit enough free throws to win at the end,” said Ignacio head coach Chris Valdez. “In the fourth, we left some people open and they hit some shots to get right back into it. We didn’t make all our free throws, but we did enough to hold on.”
The Bobcats (17-4) had three players finish in double figures Friday, as they were led by Ocean Hunter with 18 points. Keegan Schurman had 14 points, and Triston Thompson had 11. Brady McCaw scored eight, while Bryce Finn had six.
The Scorpions (16-6) were led by senior Xavier Gomez, who had a game-high 22 points, while fellow senior Isaiah Trujillo had 20. Alejandro Chavez chipped in 10.
Ignacio got out to an 18-14 lead after the first quarter, as Hunter was able to slice his way through the Scorpions 1-3-1 zone defense. He hit early jump shots and had help from his teammates, as Ignacio built the lead up to 35-23 at halftime.
“The upperclassmen did a fantastic job for us,” Valdez said. “Ocean got us rolling, and Keegan had three steals in 25 seconds to help us extend the lead to 12. Bird Red did a great job of rebounding, and we’re going to need all of them again for tomorrow.”
In the second half, IHS took a 56-39 lead after three quarters. Dolores Huerta Prep hit a few 3-pointers early in the fourth, which set up a nervy finish.
Even with a closer-than-expected finish, Valdez said it’s time to focus on Mancos.
“Tomorrow, we just have to play our game, get out to a lead and keep it,” Valdez said.
Caden Showalter scored 18 points in the first half, and Mancos beat Hoehne 70-56 in Friday’s Class 2A Region 4 semifinal.
The Bluejays (19-3) had another strong game inside the post, as Caden Showlater finished with 21 points, while Connor Showalter scored 17. Anthony Medina added 10, while Evan Sehnert had eight. The Farmers (11-12) were led by Nicholas Yates with 12, while K.J. Rael had 10, and Nic Navarette had nine.
“We’ve got some things to clean up, but we’re ready for tomorrow,” said Mancos head coach Elijah Knepper. “We just have to mentally figure it out and move on. The post play was really big for us tonight, and our size created mismatches. I thought we did a great job of exploiting that.”
With Mancos and Ignacio set for a decisive game to decide who moves on to the Great 8, Knepper said it’s important to toss the previous three results – two wins for Mancos, and one for Ignacio – out the window.
“Those first three games don’t matter anymore,” Knepper said. “It’s about today, and it’s pretty simple. One game left and we want to go out strong. I know it’s going to be a great atmosphere and standing room only. It’s going to be rocking, and we just have to focus on what we can control.