Turnovers cost Bluejays

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Kolton Miller steals the ball for Mancos Friday night against Shiprock Northwest.

By Bobby Abplanalp Journal staff writer

Turnovers can cost a team in any sport.

That's what happened to the Mancos boys basketball team Saturday evening.

The 2A Bluejays were hanging tough on their home court against 4A Aztec (N.M.). But turnovers let the game get away.

A 5-point fourth quarter deficit for Mancos turned into an 18-point, 55-37 loss to Aztec in the championship of the first Mancos Winter Classic.

"We're still adjusting to our new system this year, but they had 18 points off of our turnovers," said second-year Bluejays coach Mike Glover, whose ball club committed 29 turnovers. "That's just something we can't afford to have at any point in the season. We just got to learn to take care of the ball." Mancos (2-1) and Aztec (2-0) came into the tourney title game after thoroughly dismantling its 1A opponents on Friday. The Bluejays punished Shiprock (N.M.) Northwest, 85-56, and Aztec dominated Dove Creek, 76-37.

The Bluejays never led the Tigers, but Mancos was never out of the game until the fourth. The Bluejays certainly had their chances.

"We got out-hustled," said Bluejays senior forward Branson Mitchell. "We just got to hustle, play defense and get physical. There was only a few kids getting physical, and getting on the court and fighting for the ball. There's only two or three kids fighting for rebounds. We can't have that. Especially, against a physical team like this."

Aztec opened the game with an 11-3 lead before Kolton Miller found Nigel Henry open for a 3. Henry's swish made the score 11-6 after one quarter of play.

Trailing 17-10, Mancos stormed back with seven points in a row. Henry tied the game at 17 with his second 3-pointer.

Aztec led 24-20 at halftime.

To open the third quarter, Mitchell scored three points the old fashioned way with the hoop and the harm. The senior converted the free throw to make it a 24-23 game.

However, the height and athleticism of Aztec cohorts Troy Choman and Conner Gaskins kept the Tigers in front. The two hit consecutive layups for a 28-23 advantage.

Aztec maintained its 5-point lead and upped the margin to 36-29 after three.

Mitchell hit an 8-foot baseline jumper, bringing the home team within 36-31 to start the fourth quarter. But that was as close as Mancos would get.

As the turnovers mounted, the game unravelled for the Bluejays. Gaskins kept scoring and scoring and scoring, as the Tigers pulled away to win the Mancos Winter Classic.

"I hope we can take this (loss) to heart," Mitchell said. "Hopefully, we'll see some changes. We're just not getting it done yet. I know this is only our third game, but I didn't like the way we played at all tonight."

These two teams are well acquainted and will really get to know each other. They play again Thursday in Aztec.

"Aztec is well coached. We knew they'd be ready. They have a lot of athletes. Aztec came to play and we just didn't," Glover said. "We got to work on rebounding. You give up too many offensive rebounds against a good team, you're going to lose. It showed tonight."

Tipoff is Thursday night at 7 p.m.


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