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Montezuma-Cortez tops Ignacio in girls basketball

Lady Panthers win regular-season finale, 58-44
Ignacio junior Marissa Olguin (left) tries keeping the ball safely away from Montezuma-Cortez's Trenity Tillahash (5) on Thursday night. Montezuma-Cortez defeated Ignacio, 58-44. (Joel Priest/Special to the Herald)

Milah Begay’s first 3-pointer – a first-quarter bank shot – Thursday evening simply made Montezuma-Cortez’s good start even greater, helping spark a 13-4 start.

Ignacio junior Marissa Olguin had closed out the opening eight minutes with a 3-pointer, making it a 13-9 game, and both sides went back and forth well into the third quarter.

The Lady Panthers then pulled ahead en route to a 58-44 victory Thursday night at IHS Gymnasium.

Ignacio entered intermission down just 29-24, but after M-CHS junior Taylor Whited began the third quarter with a steal, the margin grew to 31-24 after zipping the ball ahead to Begay for a layup.

“Huge – and she’s just a freshman,” Montezuma-Cortez coach Brad Wright said when asked if Begay was M-CHS’ X-factor. “But those threes in the first half were monstrous; that’s what really kept the momentum going for us.”

Montezuma-Cortez improved to 10-9 overall and in 6-4 3A/4A Intermountain League play. Ignacio fell to 7-12 overall and 3-7 in league play.

Ignacio senior Solymar Cosio converted a Mendoza-Lechuga feed into two points to stay within two possessions at 37-30 with 1:11 left, but Montezuma-Cortez soon seized control for good.

Just 20 seconds into the final frame, the writing was on the wall for Ignacio. Montezuma-Cortez’s Sariah Jackson grabbed back-to-back offensive rebounds, netted a basket off the second one and drew a foul, resulting in a free throw to widen the gap. The Lady Panthers led 42-33 and started pulling ahead.

Olguin cashed her game-high fourth trey with 2:39 remaining for Ignacio to make it a 49-38 contest, but it was too little, too late for the Lady Bobcats.

Whited finished with 15 points for Montezuma-Cortez, while Olguin scored 15 points for Ignacio.

“One of the things we’d worked on the past couple days is execution,” Wright said. “We’ve been without (injured senior) Savannah Haselroth – she leads us in so many things on our team, as well as composure – so for the girls to pull together and actually execute, play the game … I’m really proud of them.”

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