IGNACIO - Size matters.
So does depth. And 3-point shooting.
The Ignacio High School boys basketball team showcased all three Friday night during a methodical 73-35 victory over Mancos at the rockin' IHS gym.
The unbeaten Bobcats (3-0) picked up their third consecutive District win and set the stage for today's showdown with Telluride in a battle of top-ranked Class 2A teams.
To take their perfect record into today's highly anticipated matchup, the Bobcats used their oppressive height advantage against the visiting Bluejays (4-4 overall, 3-3 in District play).
With the return of 6-foot-7 junior Alex Herrera from a foot injury, Ignacio often fielded a front line of 6-7, 6-5, 6-5 with combinations of Herrera, Micah Odoms, Taylor Dean and Shane Brooks - not to mention 6-5 Ryan Brooks off the bench.
Enjoying a big rebounding edge, the Bobcats broke to a 14-1 lead to open the game.
They supplemented their inside size with a barrage of 3-pointers - eight in all, four in each half.
"We go 10 deep, and we wanted to get our numbers in the game," Ignacio head coach Chris Valdez said.
"All the kids went in and worked hard, and we ... spread the minutes and the scoring," he said, looking at a scorebook that showed five Bobcats in double figures.
After leading 14-5 at the end of the first quarter, Ignacio outscored the Bluejays 20-6 in the second period for a 34-11 halftime lead.
Herrera, who was cleared Monday to return to practice, played limited minutes in the first half but still had three blocked shots - including back-to-back blocks on one sequence.
"We wanted to get him some minutes ... try to work him back into shape," Valdez said. "He played well for us."
Herrera finished with 12 points, matching the totals of Odoms and Ryan Brooks.
Dean led with 14 points, including two 3-pointers.
Point guard Trey Seibel finished with 11 points, including three 3-pointers.
Oakley Hayes added eight in the Ignacio victory.
Mancos, despite falling behind by 23 at the half, battled and battled throughout the second half, as is the custom with a Gary Hill-coached team.
The undersized Bluejays hit their scoring stride in the fourth quarter.
Mancos' Emilio Marquez hit two consecutive baskets and two free throws before teammate Isaac Leonard canned a jumper early in the final period.
Marquez hit a long 3-pointer, and Lane Cox added a steal and a layup for the scrappy Bluejays, who scored 18 points in the fourth quarter.
Mancos' Marquez led all scorers with 16 points.
Cody Colyer scored six points. Reiss Dillon added five for Mancos.
Cade Mitchell contributed a valiant effort inside as he battled the bigs from Ignacio before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
"What I liked," Valdez said, "is we had only two turnovers in the first half. We're playing like a team, and we're taking good shots."
All of those factors will be crucial when the Bobcats host Telluride in a marquee 2A match today, Valdez said.
"It should be a great game (today)," Valdez said. "We want a big crowd for the game ... these are a couple of teams that could be in the top eight at the end."
School officials anticipate a possible standing-room-only crowd this afternoon when Ignacio, ranked No. 5 in the state in The Denver Post poll, takes on Telluride, ranked No. 10 in the Rocky Mountain New poll.
The Ignacio-Telluride girls game will start at 3:30 p.m. with the boys showdown set for approximately 5 p.m.
Telluride features consensus all-stater Mike Matthews, a 6-1 power guard who is an early signee to Fort Lewis College.
Matthews, the reigning three-time San Juan League player of the year, is averaging 23 points per game for the Miners ... and 10 assists per game.
He's also had a 15-assist game this year.
Many of his assists have gone to fellow seniors Ian McCracken and Carl Schroedl.
Those three present a huge challenge for the Bobcats, Valdez said Friday night.
"Should be a great game," Valdez reiterated. "We can't wait."