Throughout much of the season, the Montezuma-Cortez High School boys basketball team has seen its momentum ebb and flow.
Over the course of two games last weekend, the pattern was no different as the Panthers recorded a thrilling win, only to follow up with a disappointing loss.
Panthers beat Central in overtime
Competing in one of their most exciting contests of the season on Feb. 7, the Panthers came up big, beating Grand Junction Central in overtime, 64-61.
Leading 18-14 after one quarter and 24-21 entering the half, things looked good for M-CHS early, but after allowing Central to cut their lead to 39-37 entering the fourth quarter, things got interesting for the Panthers.
Plagued by turnovers and two Central three-pointers with under a minute to go, the Panthers entered overtime wondering if they may have allowed a game to slip away.
Undeterred by Central’s late run however, the Panthers pulled things together in the overtime period, building a lead before hanging on for the victory.
“I was proud of our kids resolve,” said Panthers head coach Dusty DeBoer. A lot of teams tend to get down when they (lose a late game lead), but we battled and got the win.”
Leading the Panthers with 20 points in the win was senior Brackin Whiteskunk. Junior Jonathan Walck contributed 15 points for the Panthers.
Panthers fall to Fruita Monument
Following up on their big win against Central, the Panthers travelled to Fruita Monument on Feb. 8, losing 56-43.
Key in the Cortez loss was a tough first quarter, which saw Fruita Monument pull ahead 21-6.
Although the Panthers battled back in the second to cut the deficit to 27-19 entering the half, Fruita maintained their lead during the second half on the way to victory.
“We had our times, but we turned it over way too much,” said DeBoer. “We kept battling, but we couldn’t get over that hump.”
Leading the Panthers in scoring in the loss were junior Randy Haley (ten points) and Walck (eight points).
With their record now at 7-10 on the season, the Panthers will next travel to Durango on Feb. 11 for a game that they expect to win.
“Our kids are ready,” said DeBoer, discussing the upcoming rivalry game. “We felt like we let one get away when we played (Durango) here.”
The Panthers’ contest versus Durango will begin at 7 p.m.