Three days after being upset by Ignacio on its home floor, the Mancos High School boys’ basketball team took the court against Dolores and played with purpose and energy throughout a resounding 62-19 victory on Feb. 19.
While offensive output was not a problem for the Bluejays during their blowout victory, the seeds of their big win were sewn on the defensive end where they pressured and trapped the ball throughout the night while stealing the ball from overwhelmed Bears ball handlers.
“Our approach was to play as hard as we could for as long as we could defensively,” Mancos head coach Bob Archibeque said. “(Dolores) outsized us and we knew that we couldn’t play them in a half court set. We knew that we had to extend (our defense) and play them 30 feet from the basket.”
Among the leading scorers for the Bluejays on the evening were juniors Connor Showalter and Edgar Hernandez, who poured in 19 points and 14 points respectively. Junior Evan Sehnert also filled the stat sheet with 11 points and freshman Kail Wayman chipped in 10.
Last loss was tough, but we just got ourselves together and moved past it,” Showalter said. “We came out strong like we do.”
Unlike its loss to Ignacio earlier in the week during which Mancos got off to a slow start, the Bluejays scored early and often against the Bears as they scored the six eight points of the contest and led 13-6 at the end of the first quarter.
A transition layup by Hernandez to begin the second quarter put Mancos ahead by nine points, and after defensive pressure led to numerous Dolores turnovers ands and transition layups by Wayman, Showalter, Hernandez and Sehnert, the Bluejays led 27-11 heading into halftime.
“I think (Mancos) was a little more aggressive than a lot of the teams that we’ve seen,” Dolores head coach Justin Schmitt said. “Once they started having some success and causing some turnovers, it fueled them and they got more aggressive. It became a situation where we got in our heads a little bit and had a hard time finishing that game.”
While the second half of the contest was defined by many of the same themes as the first, a highlight-reel shot by Hernandez midway through the third quarter left fans shaking their heads in disbelief.
The shot came after the junior drove to the basket, jumped from the left side of the lane, floated underneath the hoop, and flipped the ball off the glass from an impossible angle to give the Bluejays a 36-13 lead.
“I’ve been watching high school basketball since 1953 and that shot by Edgar Hernandez had to be the best ever against Dolores,” longtime area resident and legendary high school basketball and football official Arlo Robb said.
Other second half highlights for the Bluejays came curtesy of Evan Sehnert, who played lockdown defense while breaking out of a recent shooting slump by knocking down two 3-pointers that helped his team build a 43-13 lead heading into the final quarter of play.
“This season, my coach has been really good about telling me that I put way too much effort in to not shoot the ball,” Sehnert said. “I’ve just been putting it up in practice and trying to make those (3-pointers) and tonight they finally fell.”
Standing out during what was a difficult night for the Bears were junior Wyatt Koskie, who scored a team-high 8 points, and junior Tyler Nowlin, who scored four points while pulling down several rebounds and recording two assists.
Now 4-4 overall and 3-2 in the San Juan Basin League, Dolores will look to close out its weekend with a win when it plays at home against Ouray on Feb. 20.
Mancos will take a brief break before putting its 7-1 overall record and 5-1 record in the SJBL on the line when it travels to Cortez to face Montezuma-Cortez High School on Feb. 23.