Eleven games into its season, the Montezuma-Cortez High School boys’ basketball team has reeled off eight wins, blown out two Intermountain League foes, and looked every bit like one of the top teams in Colorado’s 3A Classification.
Even so, the Panthers (8-3, 2-0 IML) still have much to prove before the start of the postseason and with games against Alamosa High (7-4, 2-0 IML) and Centauri High School (11-0, 2-0 IML) this weekend, M-CHS will have a chance to establish itself as one of Colorado’s powerhouse teams.
In advance of the Panthers’ two most important games thus far this year, below are a factors that could influence whether M-CHS returns from its difficult trip to the San Luis Valley unscathed:
Physical Alamosa team will present stiff challengeWhen the Panthers hit the road to face Alamosa on Jan. 24, they will do so with some degree of familiarity with their green-and-white clad opponents after having played three exciting games against them last season.
Back from last year’s Alamosa team that defeated M-CHS 58-48 and lost to the Panthers 55-52 and 50-48 in the Intermountain League tournament championship is senior Brenden Crowther, who is averaging 17.2 points 7.1 rebounds per game this season, and senior Ian Jackson, who is averaging 14.9 points per game and 5.4 rebounds per game this year.
In order to effectively contain Crowther, Jackson, and the rest of Alamosa’s physical squad, the Panthers will lean heavily on senior big men Travis Beeson and Giovanni Carta, who have played solid defense in the paint throughout this season.
While M-CHS will enter its game against Alamosa as the favorite in light of last season’s results and the offensive capabilities of seniors Teagan Whiteskunk (19.3 ppg), Titus Jackson (17.0 ppg), and Adrian Mark (10.6 ppg), the Panthers will likely have to deliver one of their best performances of the season to walk away with a victory.
Undefeated Centauri team looks to be toughLess than 24 hours after it finishes its game against Alamosa, the Panthers will travel to La Jara for a tough contest against a Centauri High School team that will enter the weekend with an 11-0 record.
While statistics were only available for three of Centauri’s 11 games as of press time, M-CHS can rest assured that multiple players on their opponents’ talented roster can score out of a free-flowing offense that relies on ball movement and backdoor cuts to generate open layups.
Winners of two of three games against Centauri last season, the Panthers will likely need Whiteskunk and Jackson to consistently attack the rim and score in double digits if they hope to walk away with a win.
The contributions of M-CHS sharpshooters Blake Keetch and Adrian Mark could also factor heavily into the Panthers success given that Centauri has shown itself vulnerable to deft 3-point shooting in past seasons.