Steve Lewis/Durango Herald
Mariah Vigil worked too hard to watch a senior-year victory over the Bobcats’ Pine River rival slip away.
After scoring 16 first-half points for Ignacio High School, Vigil lined up at the foul line with 16 seconds remaining and a 1-point lead over the Bayfield High School girls basketball team.
Check toes, cock elbow, swish; check toes, cock elbow, swish.
Vigil finished with a dominant 21 points, and her final two free throws gave the Ignacio Bobcats a 49-47 final margin to “beat Bayfield in I don’t know how long,” IHS head coach Justa Whitt said.
“I definitely had to make it. Every one counts,” said Vigil, who shot 11 of 14 from the line Tuesday night at BHS. “And this one especially. I was just pumped up.”
Vigil’s free throws capped a wild fourth quarter that put the raucous, near-capacity crowd in each other’s faces after two Bobcats and a Wolverine fouled out in the final six minutes.
Class 2A Ignacio entered the quarter leading 39-34 after trailing the Wolverines just once throughout play.
Jaida Ross closed the gap to 47-46 on a put-back layup with 50 seconds remaining in the game, leaving the Class 3A Wolverines with hope for a game-winning bucket. She finished with 11 points, nine of them from the line.
But Vigil laid that hope to rest with her final two foul shots.
“That girls experience is what paid off (Tuesday night),” coach Whitt said.
BHS tried to play catchup all night after falling 10-5 in the first quarter. Micaela Knickerbocker led the effort as her team struggled to make inroads against the scrappy and handsy IHS defense.
The Bobcats’ pressure defense kept the game in hand, Whitt said, led by bench players Jordan Cuthair and Ellie Seibel.
“Those girls stepped up,” Whitt said. “Played their butts off.”
Knickerbocker said the Wolverines’ game plan revolves around looking to the paint for points. With the Bobcats’ defenders blocking the paths, the Wolverines were forced to take shots from the outside.
“It’s not our normal,” said Knickerbocker, who finished with a team-high 15 points, a handful of them pull-up jumpers. “It was a little sketch, sometimes.”
Although the Wolverines only took the lead once at 30-29 in the third quarter, Ignacio did need the help of some long-range looks.
Valerie Armstrong hit three 3s to finish with nine points, including the shot that gave the Bobcats back their lead for good at 32-30.
“This is Bayfield,” Vigil said. “We just wanted to stick it to ’em.”
Knickerbocker knows; they did.
“Oh gosh,” she said. “It just eats you all the way to your core.”