Winless through nine games, things did not get any easier for the Montezuma-Cortez High School girls basketball team last weekend.
Facing off against perennial Southwest League powers Montrose and Grand Junction, the Panthers suffered two blowout defeats, yet even with the losses, Panthers’ head coach John McHenry remains confident that his young team will become more competitive in the future.
Panthers blasted by Montrose
Kicking off a tough two-game road trip in Montrose on Jan. 24, the Panthers were stymied on offense and burned on defense, losing 60-22 in a contest that was anything but close.
Keying the Montrose victory was the inside play of 6’1 senior Emily Thorp, who, using deft footwork and impressive strength, burned the Panthers for 17 points.
Also helping Montrose to victory was a stingy half-court defense that, according to McHenry, made it almost impossible for his team to score.
“They are just really big,” said McHenry. “They didn’t press us outside, but they wouldn’t let us inside. They created a lot of turnovers.”
Panthers destroyed by Grand Junction
Looking to rebound against Grand Junction High School on Jan. 25, the Panthers were dominated for the second consecutive contest, losing 62-19.
Presenting a different challenge than the one faced by the Panthers in Montrose, Grand Junction employed a full-court press that clearly bothered M-CHS’s young guards.
“Although I hated to be pressed, it was a good experience,” said McHenry. “The more you see it, the more you can handle it.”
Especially impressive in the Grand Junction game was the defensive play of junior Gabby Wolf, who, demonstrating outstanding athleticism, bothered Grand Junction’s leading scorer Sydni Brandon throughout the contest.
“Gabby just wouldn’t let her go,” said McHenry.
Even with Wolf’s defense however, the Panthers found it difficult to compete with Grand Junction, which, according to McHenry, resulted from a team-wide lack of experience.
“We need to see this higher level of basketball more,” said McHenry. “We talk about making it tougher in practice so it’s more like game-time situations.”
With their record now at 0-11 on the year, the Panthers will look to sure things up in advance of a home matchup against Durango on Jan. 16.
“I’ve got to get my girls used to a little craziness,” said McHenry, discussing how he will prepare his team for its upcoming matchup against the rival Demons.