When the Montezuma-Cortez High School boys basketball team takes to its home court this weekend, expect to see a motivated group looking for redemption.
Coming off a late 50-48 defeat to Bayfield last week, the Panthers face a physical Alamosa High School team on Friday, then 9-2 Centauri on Saturday.
Winners of the Intermountain League’s regular season title last season, the Alamosa Mean Moose come with an overall 6-4 record.
While Alamosa graduated top scorers Ry Adams and Noah Romero off last year’s roster, this year’s Mean Moose team returns with several experienced upperclassmen.
Among those are junior forward Ian Jackson, who has averaged 15.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per game this season by utilizing his 6-foot-2 frame to control the paint and keep defenders in check.
Also looking to give M-CHS problems will be junior shooting guard Brenden Crowther, who averages 14.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Forward Chad Jackson averages 13.8 points per game this year.
For M-CHS to win, it will likely need solid performances from senior forwards Cordell Baer and Jens Jorgensen in the paint. Several football players dot Alamosa’s roster, and the Mean Moose have been one of the state’s toughest Class 3A programs.
Although Alamosa defeated M-CHS 65-51 and 70-31 in two games last season, those losses preceded the emergence of Panthers star Teagan Whiteskunk, whose season averages of 20.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 3.8 steals per game this season are among the best in the league.
If M-CHS can set the pace and get the ball in the hands of speedsters like Titus Jackson, Michael Diaz and Whiteskunk, expect the Panthers to squeak their way to a five-point win.
Centauri looking to turn tablesIn three matchups last season, the Panthers proved to be the team in control as they beat Centauri by scores of 73-69, 64-57 and 63-60.
Although a roster and season statistics are not available for this year’s Centauri team, the fact that the Falcons have won nine of their 11 contests should concern M-CHS.
Key in all three matchups last year was M-CHS’ ability to dictate the pace and control Centauri’s fast break. If the Panthers are able to deal with Centauri’s pressure again this season, expect M-CHS to walk away with a hard-fought win.
The Alamosa game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday. Centauri visits M-CHS at 1 p.m. Saturday.