What a difference a year makes.
The Montezuma-Cortez High School Lady Panthers swept the 3A Bayfield Lady Wolverines a season ago.
This year, M-CHS lost valuable seniors and Bayfield returned most of its squad.
The Lady Wolverines had its vengeance Tuesday evening with a dominating 65-44 road rout of the Lady Panthers.
Bayfield (2-0) started fast and didnt letup. M-CHS (2-4) simply couldnt keep up.
Were just a couple of steps behind, Lady Panthers coach Justine Bayles said. We have to analyze how were going to use our girls, because some of our girls had to play a JV game. I cant expect them to come out as fresh as I would like them. We have to make some adjustments there. I think these girls are working as hard as they can work.
A pressing defense, offensive rebounding and crisp ball movement enabled easy shot after easy shot for Bayfield. The more physical Lady Wolverines dominated the glass, 41-18.
It was nearly four minutes into the game when Nicole Dembys 18-footer put M-CHS on the board. But Bayfield led 12-2. Junior Randy Elliot hit her first 3-pointer for the Lady Panthers to make it 12-5.
However, that would be as close as M-CHS would get, as the much improved Lady Wolverines ran away in the first half. Bayfield led 22-9 at the end of the first quarter.
The visitors controlled the paint and earned plenty of second chance points with Candace Shaw and Kayla Strobel leading the way.
M-CHS continuously went one-and-done on the offensive end, leading to more fast-break points for Bayfield. The Lady Wolverines built their largest lead of the half at 32-11 before Elliots second trey cut it to 18. Lady Panthers senior Sydney Bayles made a layup at the halftime buzzer to make it 35-18.
M-CHS got more production out of Sydney Bayles in the third quarter. But the Lady Panthers just couldnt slow the Lady Wolverines efficient offensive attack.
Bayfield led 50-29 at the end of the third and its biggest lead of the game was 55-31 at the 4:21 mark of the fourth quarter. The Lady Panthers didnt go quietly into the night, though. Sydney Bayles went on an 8-0 run herself by hitting two free throws and two 3-pointers. Elliot then knocked down her fourth 3 to cut the deficit to 55-42.
With the crowd back in the game, Bayfield coach Ronnie Posey called timeout. It worked. The Lady Wolverines countered M-CHS 11-0 spurt with eight consecutive points to put the nail in the Lady Panthers coffin.
M-CHS fought late, but it was too late, only losing the second half 30-26.
I just think were a new team. We havent really played with each other, Elliot said. Were trying to get confident and trying to bring everyone together to play better.
Sydney Bayles had a game high 21 points, while Elliot poured in 15 with four 3-pointers.
In the summer, I didnt really shoot a whole lot because I was so involved with softball, said Elliot, a softball first-team Southwestern League, All-Conference catcher. Ive been working my butt off to get my shot back. At the end of the season last year, my 3s were on. I think I finally got my shot back.
Strobel led the balanced Lady Wolverines with 15 points, and Shaw chipped in 12 points and 12 rebounds.
The Lady Panthers face Rifle today at the Palisade High School tournament at 3 p.m.
We played Rifle last year, and they have a tough, fast team, said Justine Bayles, who lost to Rifle last season. They have a really solid program. This year, I think we should be able to keep up with them defensively. We had a good tournament last year in Palisade.
Tourney play continues through Saturday.
Reach Bobby Abplanalp at email@example.com.