Mancos motors past Miners
Lady Bluejays basketball team wins hard-nosed game over Telluride
The Telluride Miners worked Mancos 50-28 on Jan. 11, in Telluride.
That was then.
Last Saturday night in Mancos was a different story.
The Lady Bluejays weren't about to be pushed around on their home floor. Mancos sent an early message to Telluride.
The Miners were going to have to work for it.
In a game that went back-and-forth throughout, it was the Lady Bluejays that flew for rebounds and scooped up loose balls.
Danika Evensen's assist on Emily Funmaker's layup gave Mancos a 32-30 lead with less than five minutes remaining. The Lady Bluejays forced turnovers and sank crucial free throws from there to hang on for a thrilling 40-37 win in girls basketball action.
"More than anything, they worked hard," first-year Lady Bluejays coach Josh Kitchen said. "We worked harder than they did tonight and I think that's what it came down to."
It was a satisfying victory to say the least for Mancos, who has newfound momentum after two straight wins.
"We came out here determined," Evensen said. "I think that they didn't think that we were strong enough to actually beat them. We proved them wrong."
The Lady Bluejays (3-10, 1-3 2A San Juan Basin League) earned sweet revenge over Telluride (4-5, 2-3 2A SJBL). But coach Kitchen knows there is still work to be done.
"We got to keep working hard," he said. "Two games are great and I'm certainly proud of my girls for winning both of them. But two games is just two games. It's a long season and we have some good opponents. We have to be ready for them. We're still building."
Mancos started the game by dominating in the paint behind post powers Megan Hess and Andie Paschal. The Lady Bluejays quickly built a 10-3 lead and led 12-7 after one.
Jessica Gutierrez's layup gave Mancos a 14-8 lead in the second quarter. But the Miners started chipping away behind Shelby Brier and Sarah Wontrobski.
Telluride would conclude the half on an 11-2 run to take a 19-16 lead into the locker room at halftime.
To open the third, the Lady Bluejays went back to the paint. Taylor Goff hit Hess down low for 2 and then Brandi Bundy swished a 10-footer in the lane on the next possession to put Mancos back on top 20-19.
The back-and-forth battle ensued.
Wontrobski and Morgan Mackie catapulted Telluride in front 24-20 before the Mancos responded with a run of its own.
Gutierrez stole the ball and fed Evensen on a fast-break for two points. Paschal tied the game at 24, powering her way inside for the easy deuce.
Bundy sank another jumper from 15-feet out to give the home team a 26-24 lead at the end of three.
To open the fourth quarter, three points from Mackie and a Sierra Sandoval free throw gave Telluride a 28-26 lead. But Mancos tied the game when Gutierrez had another huge assist. This time to Taylor Goff, as she found the bottom of the net from 12-feet.
With the game tied at 30, Funmaker's layup gave the Lady Bluejays the lead for good, as they held off Telluride in the closing minutes.
"We really are a team," Kitchen said. "There's a lot of teams out there with one or two really good players. We've just got a lot of players and they all do a lot of different things that contribute to our team. I have girls that are willing to work their butts off to be out there and that makes a big difference. It shows on the court."
Hess led Mancos with 10 points, while the trio of Evensen, Paschal and Bundy scored six apiece.
"I think we actually pulled together, and played good and played hard," Evensen said. "Right now, when we work together and play these games as a team, we're hard to beat."
Wontrobski scored a game high 11 for the Miners, while Sandoval tallied 10.
The Lady Bluejays stay at home to host Norwood and Ridgway on Friday and Saturday at 5:30 and 4:30 p.m.
Sam Green/Cortez Journal