Ignacio learns Great 8 fate

Bobcats draw defending champs Round 1

Ignacio High School celebrated its first regional championship in girls basketball in a decade Saturday at Durango High School. The reward is a trip to Massari Arena in Pueblo for the CHSAA Class 2A Elite Eight, where the Bobcats will face undefeated defending state champion Akron in the first round. Enlarge photo

Steve Lewis/Durango Herald file photo

Ignacio High School celebrated its first regional championship in girls basketball in a decade Saturday at Durango High School. The reward is a trip to Massari Arena in Pueblo for the CHSAA Class 2A Elite Eight, where the Bobcats will face undefeated defending state champion Akron in the first round.

Wake up, Ignacio. Your date with state comes early.

The Ignacio High School girls basketball team will open their first trip to the CHSAA Class 2A Girls Basketball State Championships since 2003 at 10:15 a.m. Thursday at Massari Arena in Pueblo in the first game out of the gate.

The Bobcats (16-7) were seeded eighth in the eight-team field and have the unenviable task of facing defending state champion Akron (24-0) in the Great Eight.

“From what I read last night online, they’re the returning state champs and returning starting state champs,” IHS head coach Justa Whitt said, referencing the bevy of returning players the Rams bring back to Pueblo.

As far as the early start time goes, Whitt said she plans to get the girls up at 6 a.m. the next couple of days to get them acclimated to rising early and hitting the ground running.

Rick Agan’s team is a combined 29-1 in the last two seasons, and the Rams average an astounding 72.2 points per game this season.

Three Akron players average in double figures, led by Ally Vasquez, who’s scoring at a 16-2 points-per game clip. Sidney Merrill is scoring 15.2 per contest, while Jordan Baer is averaging 12.1 points.

The Rams rolled through their regional with a 69-17 victory over Alexander Dawson and a 69-18 win over Limon, earning another trip to state in an impressive fashion.

But Whitt said she and her Bobcats squad remain undaunted.

“That’s going to be tough, for sure. However, at this point in the game, anything is possible,” Whitt said. “If the girls come out and play like they can, Akron may have overlooked us and thought, ‘Hey, no big deal.’ When you get to this level of competition, you can’t overlook anybody.”

Thursday’s winner meets either fourth-seeded Sangre de Cristo (22-2) or fifth-seeded Peyton (20-4) in Friday’s final four. The loser would meet the loser of that same game in the consolation semifinals on Friday.

rowens@durangoherald.com