Game after game, the Montezuma-Cortez High School girls basketball team makes subtle improvements.
Thus, although the Panthers have yet to win a game this season, it appears that the group is headed in the right direction after a solid performance during a 42-30 loss to Bayfield on Jan. 7.
Coming out of the gates flat, the Panthers were out of sync early, falling behind 13-1 during a first quarter that left head coach John McHenry scratching his head.
“It’s just practices, games, in general the things that we do…we’re not humming until the second hour,” said McHenry. “I don’t have an answer for it, but we’re searching high and low.”
Looking far better to begin the second quarter, the Panthers cut the Bayfield lead to 16-10 entering the half after an unlikely three-pointer by junior post Abby Chupp and two three pointers by junior Katrina Lee.
“We figured out that they couldn’t deal with some pressure,” explained McHenry. “We put some pressure on them and created some opportunities.”
Coming out of the locker room at halftime, the Panthers played what was perhaps their finest quarter to date, pulling to within one point at 18-19 after Lee drilled a three pointer from the top of the key.
The last half of the third quarter proved to be unkind to the Panthers as the team turned the ball over several times and fell behind 33-23 entering the fourth.
Continuing to play hard in the final quarter, the Panthers received pretty buckets from sophomore Yannibah Bayles and Chupp before closing out their scoring with a late three pointer by sophomore Simone Lopez.
Although the 12-point margin of defeat was on one level discouraging for the Panthers, McHenry noted many improvements from his young group.
“We are starting to communicate together,” said McHenry. “We still have a lot of fundamental stuff to work through. It’s just a matter of getting more court time, feeling better about ourselves and execution.”
Hoping to record their first victory, the Panthers return to action on Jan. 11 for a road matchup against the Dolores Bears.