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M-CHS boys’ basketball team set for crucial weekend matchups

District tournament seeding will be on the line when the Panthers host Centauri and Monte Vista
Driving to the hoop, Montezuma-Cortez High School’s Titus Jackson splits Bayfield defenders Brecken Espinosa (4) and Crosby Edwards during a recent game inside M-CHS Gymnasium.

If the Montezuma-Cortez High School boys basketball team’s goal is to qualify for the Class 3A State Tournament for the second consecutive season, winning at least one of its Intermountain League matchups this weekend will be critical.

Centauri figures to present stiff challenge

First among those matchups will be a game against Centauri High School (15-1 overall, 6-1 in IML) on Friday night, during which the Panthers will attempt to avenge a 69-55 loss to the Falcons earlier this season.

Over the course of Centauri’s 11 games for which statistics are available, sophomore Baron Holman has led his team’s offensive charge by averaging 12.8 points per contest. Junior Trey Crowther has averaged 9.3 points per game, and senior Alec Holman has chipped in 8.8 points per contest.

Among the primary challenges facing the Panthers in their quest to deliver Centauri its second loss of the season will be containing the Falcons’ half-court offense that relies on screens and cuts to free its versatile players.

While big scoring nights from M-CHS’ leading scorer Teagan Whiteskunk, who averages 18 points per game, and M-CHS junior Titus Jackson, who averages 14.6, will likely be necessary to defeat Centauri, the Panthers will also look for a boost from at least one of its role players.

Among the M-CHS role players most likely to shine are junior Adrian Mark, who is averaging 9.3 points per game and has knocked down 20 3-pointers on the season. Sharpshooter John Thomas Carver and spark-plug Andrew Wood could also play key roles in delivering the Panthers a victory over the IML’s second-best team thus far this year.

Contest against Monte Vista will be key

Win or lose against Centauri, what will likely be the most important game to date for M-CHS will come on Saturday when the Panthers take their home floor against a Monte Vista High School (6-9 overall, 2-5 in the IML) squad that handed them an 80-67 defeat earlier this season.

Generally one of the weaker teams in the IML, Monte Vista has shown itself to be dangerous this season thanks to an offense that can score in bunches by utilizing an aggressive fast-break style and long-range shooting.

Leading scorers for Monte Vista this season have been Tyrese Otero (12.4 PPG), Andres Maestes (10.8 PPG) and Jarren Chavez (10.7 PPG).

Although M-CHS controlled the pace and was the better team throughout much of its first matchup against Monte Vista, a difficult third quarter in which the Panthers were outscored 24-7 proved to be the difference in the game.

In order to be successful against Monte Vista, the Panthers will likely need to limit their turnovers and selectively push the ball in transition when their defense comes through with a steal.

An X-factor for the Panthers against Monte Vista could be Jackson, who will likely be the best athlete on the floor, and who has shown an ability to blow past defenders for uncontested layups this season.

M-CHS’ game against Centauri is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on Friday. M-CHS’ contest against Monte Vista is slated to begin at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

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