Even as hot of a shot as she’d shown herself to potentially be during the 2018-19 season’s first month, sophomore guard Jayden Brunson and the rest of the Bobcats learned a valuable lesson in a Dec. 15 home loss to non-league Cedaredge. A strong outside game appreciates a complementary inside attack.
“We were doing a four-out, with one in the middle. And every time we passed it in, the defense usually collapsed, so we tried to get it back out,” Brunson explained after the 50-37 setback. “But they had one person that was guarding me the whole time, so it was a struggle to get open.
“I was just trying to look for Makayla as much as I could, get her the ball as much as I could.”
Brunson was referring to junior forward and team co-captain Makayla Howell, who battered the 3A Bruins inside and out for 15 points while Brunson netted 12, making for a combo upon which head coach Justa Whitt could often rely, even when utilizing Brunson as a bench spark later in the campaign rather than in her starting five.
Available for all 23 of the Bobcats’ outings this winter, Howell totaled 198 points (8.6 points per game), was held scoreless just twice, and was most recently named First Team All-San Juan Basin League along with Brunson (7.1 ppg in 22 games played) from amongst its Class 2A teams, along with Dolores senior Tatum Majors and junior McKenzy Howerton, plus Ridgway junior Ashley Medina.
Even with missed games factored in, IHS sophomore point guard Charlize Valdez (101 points) and sophomore center Shelcie Gosney (93) still averaged more than four points per game each, and both earned second team distinction along with Mancos senior Ericka Peacock and Dolores senior Morgaine Milligin. Mancos sophomore Tia Imel and Telluride senior Jess Pack were named honorable mention All-SJBL.
Helping Dove Creek advance as far as the 1A District 1 Tournament semifinals, where the Bulldogs then lost to Walden North Park and finished 16-5 overall, Dove Creek junior Cassie Gatlin and sophomore Grace Hatfield headed up the first team all-league roster from the loop’s 1A side. Joining them as first team selections were Ouray senior Lauren Fairchild and Nucla senior Caitlyn Littlejohn.
Second team status went to Dove Creek senior Madilyn Hankins and sophomore Kobie Beanland, Ouray sophomore Haley Kunz, Nucla junior Taylor Sutherland and Norwood junior Lilli Parrino, with an honorable mention nod going to Norwood senior Quinn Shaw.
Including a season-ending overtime loss to Wray in the 2A Region 8 Tournament championship, Ignacio finished 16-7 overall with all defeats dealt them by state-bound sides including Wray (21-4, fifth place at the CHSAA 2A state championships), Del Norte (24-3, third at the 2A state championships), Pagosa Springs (22-4, fourth at the 3A state championships), and still-active Kirtland Central (27-3; challenging 27-3 Los Lunas Friday for the NMAA Class 4A state championship).
Cedaredge (18-6) actually fared worst out of all crews fortunate to down the ’Cats, with a third-place regular-season finish in the Western Slope League preceding an eventual Sweet 16 loss to Parker-based Lutheran.
“But they came through it well,” said Whitt, speaking of all her players with all-leaguers, all of whom can return next season, included. “As we go along they’re going to be just fine.”