Although the Montezuma-Cortez High School girls basketball team is 4-9 overall and 2-4 in the Intermountain League, players and coaches are feeling confident heading into a pair of weekend games that will impact the team’s postseason seeding.
Chief among the reasons for the Lady Panthers’ confidence was their performance during a road contest against Monte Vista High School on Jan. 31, when the team played as well as it has all season in a 50-22 victory.
Leading the way offensively for M-CHS was junior Paige Yarbrough, who used her size and skill in the paint to score a game-high 13 points and pull down six rebounds. Senior Myra Simmons came through with 11 points and four steals and senior Dimery Plewe had four assists.
Playing their second game of last weekend at home against Pagosa Springs High School on Saturday, the Lady Panthers gave the league-leading Pirates all that they could handle before falling, 46-28.
M-CHS trailed 16-7 at the end of the first quarter and 23-13 at halftime before outscoring Pagosa 10-7 in the third to pull within striking distance entering the fourth. Shooting woes undid the Lady Panthers, however, as the team managed just five points over the final eight minutes.
Yarbrough led the Lady Panthers offensively against Pagosa with 11 points and Plewe chipped in 7. Senior Hayden Leggett pulled down five rebounds and Pagosa senior Teagan Stretton led her team offensively with 12 points.
Now just three regular season games away from the start of the postseason, M-CHS will play critical IML games against Bayfield High School and Alamosa High this weekend.
The game against Bayfield, which will take place on the road Friday and will be a rematch of a contest earlier this season, could significantly impact the Lady Panthers’ seeding given that the Bobcats are just one game behind the Panthers in the IML standings.
During M-CHS’s 44-43 victory over Bayfield on Jan. 18, the team relied on a balanced scoring attack that saw Plewe net nine points, Leggett score eight, Yarbrough score seven and senior Presley Frost chip in six.
If the Lady Panthers hope to repeat their January result against Bayfield, they will need to figure out a way to contain the Wolverines’ junior center, Macee Schultz, whose size and strength down low have allowed her to average a team-high 11.4 points per game this year.
One day after squaring off against Bayfield, M-CHS will return home on Saturday to face an Alamosa squad that has proven to be one of the most difficult matchups for the Lady Panthers in recent seasons.
During the last matchup between the two teams on Jan. 20, M-CHS struggled on both sides of the court and lost 52-20 to the Intermountain League’s second-ranked team.
For the Lady Panthers to remain competitive against the Mean Moose, they will likely need a strong offensive performance from Yarbrough, who is averaging a team-best 10.1 points per game and 6.3 rebounds this season.
M-CHS’s game against Bayfield High School on Friday night will be broadcast live on FM radio 98.7, KVFC.