CROWLEY COUNTY, FOUNTAIN VALLEY- The John Mall Panthers split a pair of basketball games this weekend as they fell to the eighth-ranked Crowley County Chargers in a close contest, 49-44. The game was not decided until the final minute.
The game saw high pressure defensive action throughout the first half, forcing the Chargers to take advantage of the three-point shots to gain a six-point halftime lead. The lead changed hands several times when at 2:56 in the final quarter, Steven Rodriguez put the Cats ahead. As the teams changed buckets, the score was tied at 44 with a minute to play. The Panthers worked the ball for the last shot, but a turnover and lay-up by the Chargers gave them the lead for good.
On Saturday, the Panthers visited the Fountain Valley Danes in a classic defensive battle, defeating the Danes, 30-27. The pressure defense shut down both offenses in the first half, but the Panthers maintained a 12-10 halftime lead. The game continued to be a defensive struggle until the fourth quarter, when Charlie Whitehead and Rodriguez shut down the Danes’ ability to take the outside shots and forced them inside. The Cats dominated the boards and managed to pull away late in the fourth and hold onto their slight lead and the victory.
The Panthers will be tested against the tenth-ranked Rocky Ford Meloneers (6-4) on the road tomorrow and will travel to Westcliffe on Saturday to face the Custer County Cougars.