No. 7 ’Cats leave the door open for No. 3 Pirates

Steve Lewis/Durango Herald

Bo Ward and the Ignacio boys basketball team put some distance between themselves and Pagosa Springs with some hot first-half shooting Tuesday night. But Pagosa rallied in the second half to cruise to a 63-49 win.

By Jim Sojourner Herald staff writer

With the 3-point shot, the Ignacio High School boys basketball team slammed the front door on the Pagosa Springs Pirates.

The Bobcats forgot to close all their doors, though.

Pagosa’s Garek Erskine scored 14 second-half points – most of them on back-door cuts – to soften up the otherwise staunch Bobcats’ defense, then Kain Lucero kicked back open the front entrance with three fourth-quarter 3s, and the No. 3-ranked Pirates (Class 3A) overcame a red-hot Ignacio first half to beat the No. 7-ranked Bobcats (Class 2A) 63-49 on Tuesday night at IHS.

“They have a great player, and for three quarters we locked him down,” IHS head coach Chris Valdez said of Lucero, whom he also called the best point guard in the state.

“He doesn’t care if it’s the end of the game or not, he’s going to shoot the ball.”

And make it.

Lucero led all scorers with 26 points. Behind him, Erskine scored 17.

“We just need to finish games,” Ignacio’s Kelton Richmond said. “Played a great first quarter, an OK second quarter.”

The Bobcats did plenty of shot-making of their own to start the game.

Behind a couple of Clayton Jefferson 3-pointers, Ignacio opened up an 18-10 lead by the end of the first quarter.

The run of 3s continued when Wyatt Hayes added a couple of his own, and so did Richmond. Adison Jones had one, too, and he topped the team’s scoring chart with 15 points. Jefferson scored 14, and Richmond finished with nine.

“Just got to be focused,” Richmond said of hitting 3-pointers in transition.

At halftime, the Demons were 5 of 6 from beyond the arc and led the Pirates 30-26. Then, a door swung open, catching the Bobcats in mismatch after mismatch.

Erskine scored 10 of his 17 in the third quarter.

“We get too relaxed and don’t play as hard,” Jones said of Ignacio’s second-half play.

Instead of staying home, the Bobcats’ defenders pulled too much toward the ball, leaving the backside open.

“We just weren’t talking on defense,” Richmond said.

And once the paint softened up, Lucero started pulling up. He couldn’t miss, either, helping Pagosa Springs pull away from a 46-43 third quarter lead with 11 final-frame points.

“For three quarters we were right with them,” Valdez said. “We’re a better team than what we played in that last quarter.”

When the two teams met at Pagosa Springs in December, the Pirates won 53-50.

With the loss, the Bobcats drop to 8-3, 2-0 in the Intermountain League. They will host Sargent at 4 p.m. Saturday.

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