While wins have been hard to come by for the Montezuma-Cortez High School girls basketball team, improvements have been consistent.
Therefore, as disappointed as the team was after losing 50-35 loss in Durango on Feb. 11, players departed optimistic.
Early on, the Panthers appeared to be headed toward another blowout loss, falling behind 13-2 after four minutes of play.
A 6-2 run by the Panthers, keyed by two 15-foot jumpers by junior Abby Chupp, allowed M-CHS to cut Durango’s lead to 15-6 entering the second quarter.
The Panthers played the Demons nearly even in the second, to enter halftime trailing 26-15.
Highlighting the second quarter for the Panthers were five points from junior Kelcie Ralstin, who brought fans to their feet with a layup that beat the buzzer.
Although the Panthers struggled during a third quarter that ended with the Demons ahead 36-18, they continued hustling at the behest of coach John McHenry.
Carrying their determined play into the fourth quarter, the Panthers put together their finest 8 minutes of the season, outscoring the Demons’ varsity lineup 17-14.
Especially impressive during the fourth quarter was Panthers sophomore Yannibah Bayles’ nine of her team-high 12 points during the quarter.
“I think we’re a work in progress,” said Bayles. “We’re getting a lot better. We have a young team, and we’re still building.”
Complementing Bayles’ solid game from her point-guard position, Panthers’ sophomore Kiselya Plewe scored eight points while contributing solid defense.
“We fought hard, we tried to get through the screens, and we hustled,” said Plewe.
Leading the Demons with 14 points was senior Emily McCue.
With their record now at 1-14 on the season, the Panthers will prepare for a weekend schedule that features difficult matchups against Montrose (Feb. 14) and Grand Junction (Feb. 15).