Class size isn’t a concern for Alan Batiste.
The 2A label associated with Saturday’s opponent is immaterial. When the Durango High School boys basketball head coach looks at the task ahead, all he sees is one of the bigger tests DHS has faced to date.
The Ignacio High School boys squad sits 7-0 and is ranked No. 2 in Class 2A by both the Associated Press and chsaanow.com. So the 4A Demons (4-3) aren’t about to look ahead to the opening of Southwestern League play next week just yet. Saturday’s dance card is full enough without the distraction.
“The 2A is just a title,” said Batiste, whose Demons will tip off at 7 p.m. Saturday at DHS. “They’re a great team. ... They could beat a lot of 4A teams here in the state.”
Add the Bobcats to a long list of quality competition DHS has taken on this nonconference season. After Saturday’s regional tussle, the Demons will have played six teams with a record of .500 or better out of eight nonconference games. The first seven of those teams have a combined record of 65-33, with Ignacio sitting at 8-0 or 7-1 come Sunday.
Getting battle tested before SWL play begins is a priority for Batiste, which is why the Bobcats are on the schedule for the first time since a 59-42 DHS victory over Ignacio in Durango on Jan. 23, 2007.
“That’s why I agreed to play them. It’s a great test for us to go into league,” said Batiste, an assistant on then-DHS head coach Tim Fitzpatrick’s staff in the 2007 game.
Durango senior forward Isiah Mayberry said the Demons are preparing as though IHS is a league rival.
“We’re preparing like this game’s Grand Junction,” said Mayberry, son of George and Tonya Mayberry. “We’re hoping for the best. Ignacio’s a good team. Hopefully our defense wins this game, because ultimately, defense wins games.”
The Bobcats and Demons are familiar despite the nearly seven-year gap between regular-season meetings. The two squads routinely run into each other at summer camps in the region and typically scrimmage before the season starts, as they did before the start of this season at DHS along with Bayfield. And that familiarity, along with regional bragging rights, could make for an intense atmosphere Saturday at DHS.
Matchup-wise, Mayberry said the biggest thing that stood out to him in the offseason was Ignacio’s ability to shoot the 3-pointer.
Clayton Jefferson paces the Bobcats in that department, connecting at a 44-percent clip, best on the team for a player with a minimum of 15 attempts.
Wyatt Hayes adds to that dynamic, hitting 33 percent of his attempts.
While Ignacio has solid heighth for a 2A squad, paced by Justin Carver and Nicholas Herrera at 6-5, Durango will have an advantage in size across the board they likely will look to exploit.
But regardless of any advantages, Durango’s biggest key if it hopes to claim victory lies more in chemistry, Mayberry said.
Getting back on the same page will be key in shaking the rust after not having played a game since Dec. 21.
“We just need to start clicking as a team,” Mayberry said. “I mean, we have been in practice this last week, so other than defense, I think we just need to click as a team together.”