Lady Jays fall just short of regionals
Team plays best games of the year during District Tournament
Sam Green/Cortez Journal
Falling just short of regionals after one win and two losses in the Class 2A District 3 Tournament, the Mancos High School girls basketball team was disappointed.
Underlying that disappointment however, was a feeling that this season may be remembered as one that kicked off something special in the Mancos Valley.
Bluejays fly past Dolores
Opening the district tournament at home against Dolores on Feb. 25, the Bluejays did just enough to survive, beating their rivals 42-39 in an extremely close contest.
After the game remained tight during the first quarter, which ended with the score tied 10-10, Dolores began to pull away, building a 23-14 lead entering halftime.
Clearly rattled by the strong play of Bears' guards Brianna Schwartz and Nichole Kibel, the Bluejays continued to struggle early in the third, falling behind 30-20.
A nifty layup by Jessica Gutierrez followed by a layup by Brandi Bundy ignited an 8-0 Mancos run however, allowing the Bluejays to narrow the gap to 30-28 entering the fourth quarter.
After six more hard fought minutes, the score stood at 38-38 with just over two minutes remaining.
At that point, Bluejays forward Emily Funmaker took control, drilling fifteen-foot jump shots on consecutive possessions to put Mancos ahead 42-38 with 45 seconds left.
"They sagged off me so I decided to shoot," said Funmaker, describing the big buckets.
After fighting off a spirited Bears' comeback attempt during the final minute, the Bluejays advanced.
Bluejays fall to Ridgway
Facing off against top-seeded Ridgway on Feb. 28, the Bluejays nearly scored an upset, falling 56-41 in a game that was far closer than the score indicated.
Appearing unsettled early in the game, the Bluejays fell behind 13-4 by the end of the first quarter and 25-7 midway through the second.
A 6-3 run by Mancos, capped off by a buzzer beating layup by Courtney Colyer gave the Bluejays some hope however as they entered the locker room trailing 28-13.
Clearly invigorated to begin the third, the Bluejays came out on fire, riding five third quarter points from Gutierrez and four third quarter points from Colyer to cut Ridgway's lead to 36-29 entering the fourth.
Unable to overcome a balanced Ridgway attack however, the Bluejays were outscored 20-11 in the final quarter.
Leading the Bluejays in scoring was Colyer with 13.
Bluejays lose nail-biter to Nucla
Matching up against Nucla on March 1 with a regional tournament berth on the line, the Bluejays played their finest game of the season, but fell just short, losing 51-49.
Appearing to be the better team early in the contest, the Bluejays used a balanced scoring attack to pull ahead 11-5 by the end of the first quarter.
Bothered by Nucla's pressure defense in the second quarter however, the Bluejays relinquished their lead, falling behind 22-18 entering the half.
Ignited by seven third quarter points from Bundy however, the Bluejays pulled ahead 32-27 entering the fourth quarter and appeared headed for a win.
A 13-2 run by Nucla to begin the fourth quarter put the Bluejays behind 40-34 however.
Although Mancos tried to fight back on the strength of five late points from Colyer, a comeback was not to be.
With the loss, the Bluejays finished the year with a 5-15 record.
Considering the team's strong play late in the year, there is no reason to believe that the Bluejays won't be making a regional tournament appearance as soon as next season.