IGNACIO – Shortly after watching the girls team earn its spot in the Class 2A state quarterfinals, the Ignacio High School boys basketball team followed suit and secured its spot in the Elite Eight.
The No. 6 Bobcats rode the energy the girls sparked and rolled to a 59-39 against No. 11 Limon for the Region 6 tournament title Saturday at IHS.
“It feels amazing,” Ignacio senior Kruz Pardo said. “In the gym, we all have each other’s back. Any time anyone’s down the whole team is there to pick him up; it’s not an individual thing. It’s never going to be easy, but we stayed together,”
This is the first time in IHS history the boys and girls teams advanced to the quarterfinals in the same season.
“We all earned this right to go to state,” Ignacio junior guard Lawrence Valdez said of the feat. “It’s big for us, and the town.”
The Bobcats (19-4) needed a couple minutes to get going. Limon (17-6) jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the first two minutes of the game before Ignacio went on a 19-2 run, sparked by Lawrence Valdez, to open up a 21-10 advantage early in the second quarter.
“I talked to Lawrence a lot individually and let him know that we have a lot of seniors on this team. I told him, ‘I know you’re not a senior, but this might be your last chance to get to state. You never know what could happen next year, so you have to play like a senior,’” IHS head coach Chris Valdez said. “He’s had games this year where he’s really stepped up, and that first quarter he put us on his back for a few minutes, had some big steals and hit some big shots to put us where we needed to be.”
During the run, Valdez snatched a few steals he turned into fast break layups, and pulled up for a transition 3-pointer as time expired in the first quarter, which gave the Bobcats a 16-10 lead. Valdez hit another 3 on the opening possession of the second quarter.
“We just had to keep the pace moving,” Lawrence Valdez said of the run. “We knew they like to play fast-paced basketball, but we like it more. I was just trying to help my team out the best way I could.”
The Bobcats held a 32-21 lead at halftime, and a 45-31 advantage heading to the fourth thanks to another buzzer-beating 3 from Lawrence Valdez.
Ignacio kept rolling to start the fourth and pushed its lead to 51-31 with six minutes remaining.
“Once we started going we didn’t want to look back,” Pardo said. “We’ve had trouble in the past when we’ve tried to slow the ball down. We told each other we weren’t going to slow it down. We were going to keep the pressure on them and make them have to earn a win here, at our house.”
Lawrence Valdez led the Bobcats with 23 points. He made five 3-pointers in the game.
Kai Roubideaux added 11 points and Pardo finished with 10.
Kory Tacha had 11 points to lead Limon, and Cannan Bennett and Camden Smithburg added eight points each.
The Bobcats will meet No. 3 Byers (19-4) in the Elite Eight at 1:15 p.m. Thursday at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland.
“We just gotta keep our heads straight and we’ll be good,” Lawrence Valdez said. “We’ve played all the teams up there at state before so we know what’s coming. We’ve watched all the film and it’ll be good.”