With a varsity roster chock-full of underclassmen, Montezuma-Cortez head coach Brad Wright knows that success this season won’t be fully measured in wins and losses. The Panthers continued to see their unit come together, with an eye on the future, in a 59-24 loss to Alamosa.
In a game in which the Panthers (2-6, 1-4 3A IML) were much more competitive than the final score would indicate, M-CHS rode a solid start from their junior captain Justina Bayles to keep the Mean Moose within sight after eight minutes, trailing 16-9.
Freshman Savannah Hasselroth and junior Lindsey Hackett chipped in with field goals in the second quarter, and the Panthers headed to the locker room still squarely in the contest, down 29-16 at the half.
A deluge of Alamosa three-pointers ultimately proved to be the difference in the contest, as Mean Moose guard Emily Lavier knocked home eight triples in the contest, scoring a game-high 24 points, while Alamosa tallied over half of their team’s points from beyond the arc.
Wright applauded his team’s energy in the loss.
“We’ve been looking at making little victories through the course of a game,” he said, “and I’ve really liked the way that the girls have come together with on-court chemistry.”
Against a hot-shooting Alamosa (4-5, 2-2 3A IML) squad, the Panthers’ improved ability to limit second chances for their opponents didn’t get to factor into the overall outcome. However, Wright has noted improvement in his team’s focus on boxing out on the defensive glass.
“We’re getting to a place where we’re starting to match our opponents in rebounds,” added Wright, “and that’s a big step forward for us.”
Bayles finished with 10 points for the Panthers, while Hasselroth added six and sophomore Carlie McClellan scored four. Hackett and sophomore Kaydence Tom had a field goal apiece to round out the Panther scoring attack.
The commitment to get the ball inside to Tom has been a focal point for the Panthers this season.
“She’s discovered that she does have a nice post move,” Wright said of his sophomore post player, “and her ability to contribute on the offensive end has been a major improvement in her game.”
Meanwhile, the focal point of the offense continues to be the Panthers’ lone returning varsity contributor, Bayles. Her leadership has been an area in which Wright has noticed major strides, especially now that the junior captain has been thrust into the spotlight.
“She (Bayles) has always been in this program with players above her to look up to,” said Wright, “and her leadership this year has really given us a real boost, as the younger players really look up to her.”
Centauri 70, M-CHS 14Taking on league-leading Centauri for the second time this season, the Panthers succumbed to the relentless pressure, as the third-ranked Falcons (9-1, 5-0 3A IML) eased to a season sweep of M-CHS with a 70-14 victory.
Hasselroth paced the way for the home team with five points, as the Panthers saw six different players score in the loss.
Centauri raced out to a 36-4 halftime lead behind star senior Brenna McDaniel’s game-high 17 points. The Panthers showed improvement from the charity stripe, scoring eight of their 10 second-half points from the line.
The Panthers will take on Montezuma County rival Mancos on Tuesday, Feb. 23 before a meeting with Bayfield in a rematch of a 43-41 victory for M-CHS that earned the Panthers’ their lone league win of the season.