Trae Seibel realized this was his moment.
Alex Herrera's touch was lacking, and wingmen Micah Odoms and Taylor Dean had yet to score a point.
With the Ignacio High School boys deadlocked at 32-32 early in the third quarter against lightly regarded La Veta, the Bobcat junior captain took it upon himself to engage his giant-sized teammates, attacking the basket and making savvy decisions while leading a 19-1 run that sealed an invite to the regional championship.
The 21-1 Bobcats won 60-46 in the Class 2A Regionals at the Durango High School gym Friday night, thanks in large part to Seibel's initiative.
"I stepped up because I needed to step up," Seibel said. "When I feel that intensity to go to the basket, I'm going to attack it. If they step up on me, I'm going to find my big guys and get them into the game. That's my job, to get them into the game."
Job well done.
Odoms and Dean each had nine points in the second half, and Herrera was effective in the third before head coach Chris Valdez gave his 6-foot-7 center a rest.
Seibel, for his part, tallied 11 points darting through the lane for layups and short jumpers.
"I didn't want to bring him out of the game," Valdez said. "The kid was playing so well. He's a leader, he's a captain, and I expect that from him, day in and day out."
The Ignacio coach also credited the defense of junior guard Oakley Hayes, who had five steals.
"Oakley's defense and Trae Seibel's ball handling gave us that little bit of lead that we needed, and then all of a sudden, Micah got going, Taylor came back and hit a couple of big shots for us. ... Boom, we were off to the races," Valdez said.
Ignacio made short work of La Veta's full-court press in the first, beginning the game on a 10-2 stretch in which Herrera recorded a block, rebound, layup and assist.
Dalton Mason responded for La Veta, grabbing four consecutive rebounds before nailing a 3-pointer to bring it to 10-7. The Bobcats led 15-10 at the end of the first period.
Mason banked in a trey early in the second to bring it to a 2-point game, but the Bobcats responded to their coach's loud pleas to feed Herrera the ball in the low post, and the big man converted a Seibel inbounds pass for a layup and a foul shot.
Herrera then returned the favor by finding Seibel for a long 2-pointer to make it 20-13.
Jon Christian finished an alley-oop while diving out of bounds for La Veta, who got two more quick layups from Jon and Josiah Christian to bring it back within two at 21-19.
The last two minutes of the half were frantic, with Seibel hitting a driving floater, Mason answering with a 3-pointer, Seibel finding Herrera inside for a layup, Jon Christian driving for a La Veta score, and Oakley Hayes running the length of the court to draw a foul and hit two free throws that would send Ignacio into the break up 28-24.
Jon and Josiah Christian led a 9-6 La Veta charge that brought it to 34-33 early in the third, but that only woke the sleeping giants.
"When those times come and we're down, and we feel the momentum leaving us, we regroup as a team," Seibel said.
"We always come back together as a team. We block out the crowd, we block out the other team, and we just play together."
Seibel drove and scored, Odoms hit a free throw and Taylor Dean hit a 3-pointer as the Ignacio bench erupted.
And they were just getting started.
Odoms used his lanky frame to get two more rebounds and a one-handed putback, and Hayes hit a driving reverse layup to end the third on a 10-0 run.
After receiving a standing ovation during break before the fourth quarter, the Bobcats kept pouring it on.
Shane Brooks hit two free throws, Dean was the beneficiary of a friendly bounce on his 3-point attempt, and Odoms hit a jumper to cap a 17-0 run as chants of "I-H-S!" filled the packed gym.
Two Jon Christian free throws stopped the run, but Seibel found Ryan Brooks for a layup, a re-energized Odoms hit four free throws, and Dean swished his final 3-pointer for a commanding lead of 60-37.
"They've got so many weapons. They're tough," La Veta head coach Wade Kreutzer said.
"They've got kids who can shoot, they've got kids who can dribble to the basket. It's tough to defend four guys (like that)."
Herrera had 14 points, eight rebounds, two assists and a block despite playing only three quarters. Odoms complemented his nine second-half points with nine rebounds and two blocks.
Josiah Christian led the visitors with 12. Mason had 11 for La Veta, as did Jon Christian. It was La Veta's first year competing in 2A.
Seibel relished the opportunity to play at a bigger gym in front of home supporters.
"The crowd was amazing," Seibel said. "If I could, I'd thank every single one of the Ignacio people who came to support us, because it's great. It's a great feeling."
Ignacio faces either Plateau Valley or Dayspring Christian of Greeley in the regional finals at 2:30 p.m. today at Durango High School.
"They've gotta come and beat us," Valdez said. "This is our house, and we're going to protect it. We're hosting this regional, and we're good enough to win it all."
In the 2A girls regional at DHS, Dolores defeated the La Veta girls 45-44. Dolores will play Meeker in today's girls title game at 1 p.m. at DHS. Meeker ousted Resurrection Christian of Loveland 49-31 on Friday.