WALSENBURG- The John Mall Panthers defeated Fowler last Friday, 57-51, before a packed hometown crowd, giving them a 5-3 record and placing them atop the district at 3-0. The victory was sealed by an excellent third quarter team performance which included three three-point shots from senior Steven Rodriguez to open up a 36-29 lead midway in the third. It was all Panthers from there. The Cats exploded for 24 points to overcome a three-point halftime deficit while the defense held the Grizzlies to only thirteen points.
Charlie Whitehead dominated the boards and led the team in rebounds, scoring 26 points, twelve from offensive rebounds. His aggressive play out-muscled Grizzly big man, Tyler Stephens, who was held to only four points. Jacob Wiggins played a tough man-to-man defense which led to foul trouble early in the third. Rodriguez also found himself in foul trouble which helped fuel the Grizzly late quarter comeback, but to no avail. In the end, the Cats mauled the Grizzlies.
The Panthers travel to Crowley County on January 15 to face the Chargers. Crowley has a 5-2 record and has two players who are leading the league in scoring. Senior Daniel Frink averages 14.6 points per game while sophomore teammate Ryan Byerly has 14.3. For the Cats to polarize the Charger electricity, they need to find a way to contain these players. On Saturday, the Cats travel to Fountain Valley to face the 3-3 Danes.