IGNACIO – A clinic was held in the third quarter of Saturday’s game at Ignacio High School.
The Ignacio Bobcats (19-0, 8-0 San Juan Basin League) kept their undefeated season alive while winning the SJBL regular-season championship with a 66-45 victory against the Telluride Miners (15-4, 7-1 SJBL).
The Bobcats took awhile to run away with the game. Leading 9-8 after the first quarter, the Bobcats didn’t start firing on all cylinders until late in the second quarter and early in the third quarter. Ignacio took a 26-19 lead into halftime, but matched its first half scoring output with a 26-point third quarter to blow the game open.
“We had some nerves. We could have come out better, but we finally built some confidence in the third quarter,” said Ignacio senior guard Clayton Jefferson, son of Robert and Tena Jefferson.
Jefferson helped spark Ignacio’s big third quarter with a quick 3-point basket. He finished with a game-high 19 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field, 1-of-3 shooting from 3-point range and 6-of-7 shooting from the free throw line.
“Jefferson hit that 3 to start the second half and push their lead to 10 right away, and they never looked back,” Telluride head coach Michael Hughes said. “When a team shoots like they do, all they need is a little momentum, and they found it.”
IHS senior forward Kelton Richmond also heated up in the second half, scoring 11 of his 17 points in the final 16 minutes.
Ignacio head coach Chris Valdez said some of the first-half struggles could be attributed to nerves of playing in a title game and on parent’s night.
“This is the last game for a lot of the guys in this gym until they renovate it. They were also worried about wanting to thank their parents for a great season. The emotion of the seniors was evident,” Valdez said. “It was awesome to come out in the second half and step it up.”
Valdez asked his team to start attacking the basket more at halftime. The Bobcats took notice and got to the free throw line 13 times in the second half to just six times in the first half.
Ignacio finished the game 15-for-19 at the foul line and 17-of-33 from the field. The Bobcats also were 5-of-12 from behind the 3-point line.
Ignacio also played a strong defensive game, blocking 12 shots and outrebounding the Miners 30-23.
“We didn’t want to get beat off the dribble. We wanted to make them try to beat us from the outside,” Jefferson said.
Telluride shot just 13-of-38 from the field and 3-for-13 from 3-point range.
The Bobcats are excited to get some time off after playing seven games in two weeks; they won’t play again until the district tournament Friday.
“I can’t wait (for the district tournament). I am ready to get the playoffs started,” Jefferson said. “We want to redeem ourselves for the way we finished the last two years. It should be exciting.”