Many times, the Lady Panthers would fall and not get back up this season.
Not on Thursdays senior night at Montezuma-Cortez High School.
M-CHS erased the memories of a 57-30 walloping at Durango on Jan. 26. The Lady Panthers went toe-to-toe at home with their rivals and didnt back down.
Although Lady Demons Abby Surmeier and Molly Barnes helped thwart a M-CHS comeback, the Lady Panthers did make the home sellout crowd of white proud. The Lady Panthers battled, but lost to their rival, 61-51.
I think there is always an energy that comes with the last home game. Im just really proud of the effort that the girls put forth, M-CHS coach Justine Bayles said. Its always nice to have a supportive community, and have such a big crowd come in and support theses girls, who have worked so hard all season. That makes all the difference in the world.
Despite the loss, it was one of the best games the Lady Panthers played this year.
We did fall a little short, and we didnt get a win. But Im so very proud of the way they all played, coach Bayles said. My seniors did such a great job. I was able to coach them since they were freshmen. I had the privilege of working with them all these years. They worked so hard. This last game is always hard to let your seniors go.
Sydney Bayles put on a clinic in the first quarter. The senior on her final high school basketball night lived to win. Sydney Bayles scored 11 of the 13 first quarter Lady Panthers points. Nine of Sydney Bayles points were from downtown on three 3s. The prettiest trey happened when she inbounded the ball to Laura Heaton, then the center passed it back to Sydney Bayles in the left corner swish.
The shots were dropping on both ends of the floor. Durangos Alyssa Montoya nailed back-to-back 3-pointers, giving the Lady Demons (5-16, 3-7 4A Southwestern League) an early 9-4 lead. Sydney Bayles countered with consecutive 3s of her own, off assists from Shervanna Benally, to put M-CHS (5-16, 0-10 4A SWL) back up 10-9. Sydney Bayles 3 from Heaton made it 13-11. Barnes would put Durango in front 14-13 at the end of one with one from beyond the arc at the buzzer.
Randy Elliot took control for M-CHS in the second quarter with three 3s of her own.
The Lady Demons built a 24-17 lead behind 3-point shooting from Barnes and Emily McCue.
Elliot responded for M-CHS with two 3s assisted from Bayless Lindsley and Rachel Demby. Between each Elliot swish was a Surmeier layup for Durango, as the score stood 26-23 road team.
After six straight by the visitors, Lindsley again found Elliot for a 3-pointer and it was 32-26 Lady Demons.
The Lady Panthers cut it to five at halftime, only trailing 36-31.
Jerrica Crosby opened the third quarter with a layup to put Durango up seven. But, back-to-back 3s from Sydney Bayles and Elliot pulled the Lady Panthers within one at 38-37. The home crowd was now pulled to the edge of their seat in excitement.
Durango coach Nancy Smith called timeout to calm the storm. The storm definitely cleared.
The Lady Demons came out defensively mad behind Barnes, Surmeier and Emily McCue. The trio grabbed steals, then hit the open woman for layups in transition.
Meanwhile, the Lady Panthers shots stopped falling. Durango was able to run off 15 straight points into the fourth quarter and take its largest lead at 53-37.
There was no quit in M-CHS, though.
Sydney Bayles ended the run with a layup, and then Elliot stole a pass and took it coast-to-coast to make the score 53-41. The home crowd helped will their Lady Panthers to within six at 55-49 with 3:12 to play. But that was as close as M-CHS came.
Surmeier made sure of a Durango victory with an assist to Taylor Perry and 3-pointer to give her squad a 60-49 lead.
Sydney Bayles later hit two free throws for the games final points. She had a game high 24, including four shots from downtown.
I think this game I think we really did leave it all out there, said a teary Sydney Bayles. It was probably like the last three minutes of the fourth quarter, I was like: This is it. Im done with high school basketball.
Elliot, a junior, totaled 18 points and hit five 3s.
I think our crowd is so supportive, and it definitely makes a difference when you do something good. Theyre right there cheering you on, said Sydney Bayles, who plans to attend college in Utah.
Surmeier scored a team high for Durango with 18 points, and Barnes chipped in 12.
NOTES: Seniors Sydney Bayles, Lindsley and Heaton were honored after the game.
Reach Bobby Abplanalp at email@example.com.