M-CHS takes third at home tourney

M-CHS bounces back from loss to Soroco to take down Nucla

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Payton Keith ties up a Soroco defender Friday night at Montezuma-Cortez High School. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/The Journal

Payton Keith ties up a Soroco defender Friday night at Montezuma-Cortez High School.

Opening their home tournament on Friday against the visiting Soroco Rams, the Lady Panthers were getting the shots they wanted, but they couldn’t connect and trailed 16-6 after one.

“We knew that they were going to be pretty good and pretty quick and press us, and we wanted to get shots off,” said M-CHS head coach John McHenry. “That’s kind of the way it was in Moab too. We got lots of shots, just our shooting percentage was down.”

The Lady Panthers got into the bonus in the second quarter, but they also struggled from the free-throw line, hitting just 3-of-11 to go to the break down 29-11.

After picking up a technical in the first half, McHenry was hit with a second at halftime and was ejected for the remainder of the contest.

His Lady Panthers continued to struggle against the Rams’ pressure, and Soroco turned turnovers into points to take a 46-19 lead entering the final frame.

“We just need to settle in,” McHenry said. “We’re young, and I think as teams get to know us they’re going to come at us that way, so we have to adjust to it.”

M-CHS had its best scoring output in the fourth, tallying 15 points, but Soroco went on to win 70-34.

Assistant coach Brittney Whiteman filled in for McHenry on Saturday for the Panthers’ third-place game against Nucla.

And employing full-court pressure and traps near the midline, M-CHS took a 17-15 lead into the half.

The Lady Panthers continued to hound the Mustangs in the second half, forcing turnovers and over-and-back calls. And they were able to push the tempo and pull away to win 43-26 for their first victory of the season.

“I think all the different key factors that went into that finally clicked for them to where they knew they could go out there and win,” Whiteman said. “And I hope with this win it continues to keep rolling with our next games coming up.”

The Lady Panthers are now 1-2 on the young season with their next contest on the road against Durango on Thursday.