Injuries, illnesses and suspensions couldn’t keep the Ignacio High School boys basketball team from earning another league title this season. Now, the Bobcats will make a run at the Great Eight in the Class 2A state playoffs when they host the Region 6 tournament for the first two rounds of the state bracket this weekend at IHS.
“It’s really exciting for us, especially with both our boys and girls teams hosting,” IHS head coach Chris Valdez said. “It’s going to be fun. We’ve never really got to host a region together except for maybe 10 years ago, but we hosted it in Durango. To host in Ignacio is really good for us, and to have both of our teams host is a big boost for us.”
The Bobcats, who received the sixth seed in the state tournament, will host No. 27 Denver Christian in the first round of the tournament at 4:45 p.m. Friday. The second game of the boys bracket will feature No. 11 Limon versus No. 22 Hotchkiss, which is scheduled to begin at 8:15 p.m. Friday.
Here’s a closer look at the Region 6 bracket:
No. 27 Denver Christian (10-12) at No. 6 Ignacio (17-4)The Bobcats, out of the San Juan Basin League, have only had a handful of games with their roster healthy and eligible.
Kruz Pardo missed the first half of the season for violating a school rule by quitting a different sport during the season, Kai Roubideaux missed several games late in the season with injury, Lawrence Valdez missed time in the middle of the season for academic reasons, and throughout the course of the season different players missed time as they battled illness.
But all of those issues are in the past.
“We don’t have any injuries, but we did have a couple of kids who were out a couple of days this week with sickness,” coach Valdez said. “We had one kid with the flu and strep throat, and another kid out two days sick. But everybody was there today and healthy, knock on wood, and they seem to be over their sickness, so hopefully we’ll have a healthy team out there.”
Pardo, Roubideaux and Lawrence Valdez, along with Ocean Hunter and Johnny Valdez, have all averaged double-digit or close to double-digit scoring this season.
Denver Christian, from the Mile High League, hasn’t had the balanced success of the Bobcats. The Thunder boast a junior duo of Jeff Amidon and Eu Asefaw that has accounted for about 60 percent of the team’s points this season.
Asefaw leads the team with 17.6 points per game behind a 42 percent clip (47-for-112) from 3-point range, while Amidon has averaged 15 points per game.
“They got a couple really good ball players,” coach Valdez said. “Obviously, we have to keep an eye on those guys, but they’ve also got a couple good role players.”
Coach Valdez said Zach Johnson, a slashing wing, and point guard Josiah Romero have the ability to fill up the basket if the Bobcats aren’t careful. Johnson has averaged 5.3 points and Romero has averaged 7.3 points per game this season.
No. 11 Limon (16-5) vs. No. 22 Hotchkiss (14-8)Limon hails from the Union Pacific League and earned the 11th seed in the bracket behind a big three of Cannan Bennett, Camden Smithburg and Kory Tacha.
Bennett leads the Badgers in nearly every major statistical category. He has averaged 13.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.4 steals. But his separation isn’t much ahead of the freshman duo of Smithburg and Tacha.
Smithburg has averaged 12.5 points and Tacha has added 12.2 points per game this season.
The Bulldogs of Hotchkiss come from the Western Slope League. The senior-laden team boasts a balanced scoring attack with six players averaging seven points or more per game. The team’s top-five leading scorers are all seniors, led by 11.7 points per game from Johnathon Gonzalez.
Valdez said he hasn’t worried about scouting Limon or Hotchkiss ahead of the weekend and said he’ll look at the two teams if the Bobcats get past Denver Christian first.