by David Tesitor
WALSENBURG — The John Mall Lady Panthers basketball team came up with another win as they defeated the Bulldogs of Primero 40-35 in an exciting come-from-behind effort to send the Dawgs back to the doghouse.
The Panthers executed basic fundamentals to take advantage midway in the second quarter with their man-to-man defense and pressure on Primero.
The Bulldogs played a strong first quarter but fell apart later in the half after they opened up a 9-3 lead. The Cats’ offense kept the game from getting out of control early, and John Mall fought back with five straight points. By the end of one, the Panthers trailed 13-8 off a pair of Bulldog buckets late in the quarter.
The Panthers came alive in the second quarter and outscored Primero 8-2 to take the lead. The defense took control of the game and did not let up. The rally continued throughout the second quarter as the offense continued to score. By the time the Bulldogs made their next bucket with 2:49 remaining in the half, John Mall had opened up a 21-15 point lead, but they subsequently let it slip. With 41 seconds remaining, the Dogs tied the score and pulled ahead with four seconds remaining before going into the locker room with a 25-23 point lead.
As the second half opened, both teams made several mistakes, resulting in turnovers, but it was the Panthers who capitalized on the mistakes. Nancy Bustos tied the score with a jumper from the top of the key. Bustos scored her second bucket in a row off a turnover to regain the lead, which was not relinquished.
Angelica Souza continued the lead with a three-point jumper from the corner. After an exchange of balls, Souza scored again from the three-point range to give the Panthers a 33-25 point lead. Primero scored the next two buckets to close within four, 33-29, as the quarter ended.
The fourth quarter was filled with many mistakes and turnovers on both sides of the half-court line.
Five and a half minutes elapsed in the final quarter before Bustos hit a jumper for two to give the Cats a six-point lead.
Erin Diller of the Dogs came back with a bucket to stay in the game.
It was the Panthers’ zone defense in the final two minutes which helped seal the victory. Down the stretch, Souza hit her fourth three-point jumper from the corner to give John Mall a comfortable seven-point lead. Primero made an effort to rally, but the Lady Panthers’ defense was too strong. This was the Panthers’ second victory in the early season and was a confidence boosting win for league action after the holiday break.
Coach Pedraza commented “I am pleased with how the girls played and they are coming along.”