Plagued by turnovers and poor transition defense, the Montezuma-Cortez High School boys basketball team limped into Christmas break on a losing note.
Kicking off the Palisade Rotary Invitational Tournament on Dec. 20, the Panthers faced off against Cheyenne South, losing a lopsided contest 73-52.
Keying the Panthers downfall were several first-half turnovers that allowed Cheyenne South to score easy buckets and build a 33-17 lead entering the half.
“A lot of their offense came off of transition,” said Panthers’ head coach Dusty DeBoer. “They were pretty quick.”
Looking somewhat improved in the second half, the Panthers briefly clawed back, but again were haunted by turnovers, falling behind 54-33 at the end of the third quarter before keeping things even in the fourth.
“We played a lot better in the second half,” said DeBoer. “We tried to pound it inside.”
Leading the way in scoring for the Panthers were senior Brackin Whiteskunk and junior Randy Haley.
PANTHERS COUGH UP
LEAD, LOSE TO PALISADE
Looking to rebound against Palisade on Dec. 21, the Panthers came out on fire, but were unable to maintain the early advantage, losing 67-53.
According to DeBoer, his team came out on fire before succumbing to tough man-to-man pressure later in the game.
“We opened up a 12- point lead,” explained DeBoer. “They put some pressure on us, and we didn’t have the ball handlers to handle it. They were up by a couple at halftime and then they pulled away.”
Asked what his 2-5 team must improve on coming out of winter break, DeBoer was frank, saying his team must remain mentally tough, cut down on its turnovers and run its offense.
“I think we’re getting better,” said DeBoer. “I’m happy with the progress we’re making. We can still improve.”
Next up for the Panthers coming out of Christmas break will be a home matchup against Bayfield on Jan. 7.