The Montezuma-Cortez Panthers are rebuilding.
Second year head coach Mike Hall understands the process requires patience, but after last year’s 6-15 record, he’s hoping the team can improve this season.
“We were rebuilding,” Hall said of last season. “That’s what we’re doing and we still have this year to finish, because the main core of kids that are staying are the young kids.”
“This year will be rebuilding,” he continued. “But we’re looking very good, very promising.”
Although the Panthers graduated five players from last year’s squad, including their three leading scorers, they bring back players with varsity experience.
“As leaders, we have Luis Perry and Aron Engel,” Hall said. “They’re both seniors that are coming back. Aron got hurt last year, but he’s coming back, and Luis Perry is also back. Their leadership and court awareness and understanding of the offense is at the top right now.”
Hall also pointed to Jason Engel as a key returner.
“He’s a sophomore, but his basketball intelligence is very high,” he said. “He played a lot last year and got in big games and did very well in big games, so I’m expecting a lot from him.”
Lacking in size, Hall expects the Panthers to play up-tempo, with pressure defense.
But neither the rebuilding process nor the team’s small statures diminish the Panthers’ goals for the year.
“We want to finish with a winning season, and we would like to win the Southwestern League,” said Hall.
“Our main goal is to win a playoff game,” he continued. “The school hasn’t won a playoff game in quite a while, so we’d like to win a playoff game and hopefully continue from there.”