Young Panthers excite hometown crowd
WALSENBURG- In a game that Coach Harriman later described as “a wild finish,” the John Mall Panthers escaped with a narrow victory over the Fowler Grizzlies, 47-45.
There was plenty of excitement in the closing minutes as the Panthers saw a 47-40 lead dwindle in the last sixty seconds of play.
The Panthers had opportunity to break it wide open, but they had trouble at the charity line, missing three of four free throws in the last 18 seconds. Fowler found themselves within two with .8 seconds remaining. The Panthers needed a clean inbound pass to run the clock out, but a mistimed pass from the Panthers turned the ball over to the Grizzlies under their own basket. With one shot to win the game, Skyler Leaver of Fowler shot a three-pointer at the buzzer that rimmed out giving the Panthers their fourth win of the season.
The Cat’s determination this season has been their biggest attribute and last Friday was a testimony to the coming together of this young team. The Panthers led throughout the entire game. They would not relinquish their lead though at times they struggled to keep it from happening. The Cats were leading at half 24-20 after having shut down their opponent’s offense. Charlie Whitehead dominated Fowler’s two big forwards under the boards and helped lead his team in controlling the ball.
In previous weeks, the Panther’s third quarter has led to their demise, but this night, the third belonged to the Cats. They controlled Fowler to the end, never giving up. In the end, the free throws down the stretch were all that mattered. They won. Earlier in the season, the Grizzlies soundly defeated the Panthers in Fowler, 59-27.
The Panthers are a mixed assembly of youngsters who have committed themselves to their teammates. For two players, Alex Weber and Josh Galindo, this is the first year they have played organized basketball. Ramon Baros played at Sargent and is currently in the O&E school. Next to Whitehead, Weber is the biggest player on the team. He is improving every week under the boards, bringing down the rebounds. Baros scored 3 in victory, including a critical fourth-quarter free throw. Whitehead scored 19, Jacob Wiggins scored 6, Zach Harriman and Steven Rodriquez hit 9.
The next evening the Cats traveled to Las Animas and lost a disappointing game 56-48.
The Panthers led for three quarters but were outscored 20-11 in the fourth. The Panthers excelled in part due to strong outside shooting by Rodriquez and Wiggins who each dropped three 3-pointers. Rodriquez finished the night with 18 while Wiggins scored 11. Whitehead finished with 15. What seemed to be the nail in the Panther’s coffin was the disparity in the number of fouls called. John Mall was nabbed for 24 while the Trojans were called for 13. The Panthers converted 9 of 13 from the line while the Trojans hit 12 of 29 charity shots.
Throughout the night, the Cats dominated play, but some calls in favor of the Trojans enabled Las Animas to come back and steal victory. The Panthers defeated the Trojans in Walsenburg earlier this season.
They themselves are playing better every week. The win against the Grizzlies and their robbery went a long way toward building their confidence. The Panthers will play their last home game tonight against Crowley County. They will close out the season on the road with a pair of games the following week. This is your last chance to fill the gym and show your support for the Panthers.
Redskin boys split weekend
DEL NORTE / LA VETA– The Redskins split a pair of games this weekend, handily defeating Del Norte 74-47, then falling the next night to the Sargent Farmers 60-37.
La Veta and the Tigers squared off on Friday with both teams driving the court and providing a heavy dose of offense. The Skins played well, working as a team, feeding off one another which allowed many to light up the scoreboard. By halftime, the Skins led 34-30. Their defense came alive in the second half and shut down the Tigers. They went on to cruise for the easy victory. Franklin Geiser exploded with 22 points, Jon Christian had 18, Josiah Christian (10), Dalton Mason (9) and Travis Brownlee (6).
The following evening, the league-leading Sargent Farmers came to town and blew away the Skins.
La Veta played head-to-head ball with Sargent in the first quarter, exchanging buckets before La Veta pulled away with 5 unanswered points to close out the first with a 19-12 lead. The Farmers came plowing back with 5 straight points of their own to open the second quarter. The Skins came back with a few points of their own before Sargent′s Andrew Price, at 6′8′, dunked the ball over two Skin defenders. That may have been the turning point in the game because on the following play, Carlos Hernandez hit a three-point shot to give Sargent their first lead of the game 22-21. While the Farmer offense exploded, the Skin’s was shut down. Sargent enjoyed a 34-23 half time lead.
La Veta continued to work together as a team, but a more dominant team got the victory. Sargent hit over 80 percent from the line and hit shots from all over the court.
The Skin’s next game will be at Hoehne on Friday.
Redskins dominate weekend action
DEL NORTE / LA VETA- The Lady Redskins won a pair of games over the weekend bringing their record to 12-2. On Friday, the Skins traveled to Del Norte and walked away with a convincing victory. They invaded the Tiger gymnasium, took the Tigers by the tail and thrashed the hapless felines 70-30. From the opening tip-off, La Veta′s offense lit up the scoreboard and their defense shut down the Tigers. They led by as many as thirty points in the first half and cruised to an easy victory. Shelby Morgan scored 26 points, while Christina Koutnik hit 11, Sami Willhoite hit 8 and Jayce Day scored 6. The Junior Varsity also won.
The next evening, the Sargent Farmers visited La Veta and went home in defeat 39-28. The Redskin’s offense stalled, but the defense, with their full-court press and man-to-man coverage, forced Sargent to make off-balance shots and turn the ball over. Sargent′s Cami McCullough opened up the scoring with a 3- point shot which was answered with 10 straight Redskin points. The Skins led 19-10 at the end of the first half.
In the third quarter, La Veta opened up a 27-12 lead with two minutes left in the quarter. The Farmers had a late surge with 5 unanswered points and trailed at the end of the quarter by a score of 27-16. It would not be enough though as the Farmers could not contain Morgan who hit 10 points in the fourth quarter. La Veta′s Morgan was dominant under the boards, pulling down 4 offensive and 3 defensive rebounds and dropping in 30 points altogether. Emily Moll scored 7 points. The Junior varsity girls also won by a bucket.
The Lady Skins will be at Hoehne tomorrow with action beginning at 4 pm.
Lady Panthers hold back Grizzlies — fall to Las Animas
WALSENBURG / LAS ANIMAS- The Lady Panthers opened up their offense and defeated the Fowler Grizzlies before a sparse crowd last Friday, 41-28. The Cats were never in any danger of falling, due in part to the outstanding defense and hot shooting of their players.
As in past games, things opened slowly for the Panthers, but the team turned up the heat in the second and throughout the third quarter. Both teams missed early shots, turned the ball over and could not seem to find the net. Finally, at 3:53 in the first, Shari Duran put the Cats on the board. Fowler immediately responded with a bucket of their own to tie it up. Down court an open Duran popped an outside jumper for three, and the Panthers never looked back. A great defensive stance and steal put the ball in the hands of Katie Monahan for an easy lay-up. The momentum continued into the second quarter and the Panthers enjoyed a 19-10 half-time lead. Their defense continued strong into the third, allowing the Grizzlies only 2 points.
Both teams opened up scoring in the last quarter, but it was too late for the Grizzlies to overtake the Cats, who earned their fourth victory of the season.
Leading the way for the Panthers were Kristin David with 14, Monahan (11), Duran (9), Jessica Navarro (4) and Desi Aguirre (1).
The next night, the Lady Cats lost a heartbreaker to Las Animas 52-31. The Lady Cats had trouble on both sides of the ball. They were able to hit from the outside as Aguirre and Nakita Vigil hit three- pointers, while Duran hit a pair. David finished the night with 11. The Panthers will close out their home stand tonight against Crowley County. Let’s everyone get out to show your support.
Let’s get ready to rumble
LA VETA- The regular wrestling season is now a thing of the past, and the La Veta Redskins and John Mall Panthers are preparing for the Regional Wrestling Tournament to be held in La Veta this weekend.
The regular season ended last weekend at the Custer County tournament, with two Redskins taking the podium. Ron Ortivez Jr. took first place while teammate Nick Northup took third. Adam Ortivez, who is currently ranked number one wrestler in the state in 2A, did not wrestle. Also on the sidelines was Stephen Kimbrel, who was nursing a minor leg injury. He assured the Journal, "I′ll be ready."
The regional tournament is the last stop before the State tournament in Denver. This is the first time in 23 years that La Veta has hosted the regional tournament. After reviewing the accomplishments and opponents of the past season, the Journal predicts that Huerfano County will once again be well represented. Adam Ortivez is the best wrestler in the state, and he should bring home his first state championship. Teammates Ron Ortivez, Northup and Kimbrel should make a return trip to the Pepsi Center. From Walsenburg, Waylon Cordova, Justin Pacheco and Clayton Archuletta should represent John Mall. Other teammates have a good chance of advancement, and it will play out this weekend once action begins.
Action begins Friday at 5 pm with preliminary rounds, quarterfinals and consolation rounds. Saturday’s action begins at 10 am and will continue throughout the day. The Parade of Champions will begin at 5 pm with the championship matches. The top four wrestlers in each weight class will advance to the Big Show.
Once again, the Journal will be the only paper in the county and perhaps the state to post live results and photos throughout both tournaments. Check out our website at www.huerfanojournal.com beginning tomorrow. We will continue to report live from the Pepsi Center until the last champion is crowned.