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No five an island for Ignacio team

Wyatt Hayes and Anthony Manzanares are two of Ignacio’s iron five starters, who are expected to play heavy minutes, perhaps the entire game. It’s a winning formula for Ignacio, 21-2 on the season and once again in the Great 8 of the Colorado High School Activities Association Class 2A State Championships.

Fatigue and foul trouble can end a basketball tournament run faster than a coach can say, “Subs in.”

Those two factors can send even the most talented player to the bench, rendering him effectively useless until he rests or enough time has passed to risk reinserting him into the game.

This Ignacio High School basketball team has dealt with that possibility with each of its five starters in every game this season.

Should one of the starters run into trouble, the bench player replacing him definitely would be one without varsity experience.

The Bobcats rely on their starting five of Wyatt Hayes, Nick Herrera, Adison Jones, Anthony Manzanares and Tucker Ward more than most teams who have reached this point of the season.

They’re taking a much shorter bench than last year’s team to their second consecutive Great 8 of the Colorado High School Activities Association Class 2A State Championships, which starts Thursday in Pueblo.

That presents a unique set of challenges for the Bobcats.

“We have to play smarter, keep our fouls down,” said Jones, son of Greg Jones and Latisha Taylor. “If none of us gets in foul trouble, it’s not a big deal. If one of us gets in foul trouble, it’s hard on our team.”

IHS plans on its starters being able to play the entire game if necessary to win, like many of them did in the team’s 50-33 win over Durango High School in January.

Easier said than done in the up-tempo pressing system the Bobcats employ.

They run. A lot.

In order to get his team in shape to run a system like that for long stretches of time, IHS head coach Chris Valdez reaches back to his cross country roots.

Valdez ran cross country at Fort Lewis College and Ignacio High School, reaching state four times for the Bobcats.

He uses some of the same philosophies a cross country coach does to build his team’s endurance so they can play the way they do.

They run between three and five of what Valdez calls “sets,” where the players run five laps around the gym, 10 push ups and 10 sit ups.

As the weeks advance, the number of push ups and sit ups will increase.

“What that does is it builds a base on your body. You’re strong enough to start doing sprints and other things like that,” Valdez said. “If you just start sprinting the first day of practice, that’s how you get people injured. I understand those concepts.”

But IHS isn’t running its starting five into the ground.

Over the course of the year, the Bobcats have built a lot of large leads on the way to a 21-2 record.

The starters pull the team ahead, and the bench players are able to gain invaluable experience.

“The bench players are coming along,” said Hayes, son of Cindy and Tim Hayes. “They’re getting us breaks in games.”

During those breaks, the players on the bench have a role to follow.

“Their job is to go on the floor, not turn the ball over, look for the open shot – because I don’t tell anyone not to shoot on my team – if you don’t shoot, that’s when you’ll sit down. You’ve got to be a threat when you’re on the floor. Defense is your best attribute, though.”


Mar 11, 2015
Shades of ’86

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