Not so Great Danes
WALSENBURG– Sat. Jan. 17. What a difference a night makes. After being blown away the previous night by the Crowley County Chargers 59-39, the John Mall Panthers regrouped in true Panther fashion to take on the Fountain Valley Danes. Their commanding 48-41 victory gave the Cats their third win of the season. The victory sent the Great Dogs home with their tails between their legs and their eighth loss of the season.
Zach Harriman opened scoring when the Panthers stole the ball and fed it to a driving Harriman for two. The Danes came right back with a bucket of their own. The two teams exchanged buckets in what was shaping up to be a shoot-out. The Panthers however went cold midway in the quarter and the Danes pulled ahead 12-7 as time was winding down. Two quick buckets off fast breaks put the Cats back in the game 12-11. An exchange of buckets and a Dane foul allowed the Panthers to tie it up at 14.
Missed shots by both teams and mental errors slowed the pace of the game in the second quarter. The Panthers played great defense, out-muscling the Danes under the boards and controlling the lanes. Charlie Whitehead dominated the boards, pulling in rebounds offensively and defensively. As the half ended, the Cats held onto a slim 25-23 lead.
Both teams opened the third quarter with lackluster offense. It was not until 2:13 remained in the quarter that Whitehead finally found the net which gave the Panthers a 27-26 lead. It was the Panther defense which kept the Dogs at bay. Whitehead continued his rebounding dominance while Harriman, Jacob Wiggins and Steve Rodriquez forced turnovers. Then, Rodriquez hit a three-pointer and on the next play, Whitehead went up for three giving the Cats a 33-26 lead.
The fourth quarter saw plenty of action. The Danes controlled the opening ball and Dane, Ian Munsick hit a three-pointer, his first of three in the quarter. Whitehead came up with a fast break pass, putting the Panthers ahead by five again, and they never looked back. In this quarter the Panthers went 7 of 16 from the line which opened the door for the Danes. After two subsequent missed shots and Dane rebounds, Munsick connected for two 3-point shots to put the Dogs within three with 14 seconds remaining. A foul put Rodriquez at the line where he made one clutch shot, giving the Cats a two possession lead. The Danes’ attempt at another 3-pointer fell short and Michael Maldonado rebounded. He was immediately fouled and went to the line. He went 1 of 1. Whitehead rebounded the second shot and was immediately fouled. He went to the line and nailed both shots, shutting down any attempt at a comeback.
The Panther’s leading scorers were Whitehead with 22, Rodriquez with 9, Wiggins with 7 and Maldonado and Alex Weber with 4.
Adam breaks record
WALSH- Adam Ortivez extended his winning streak to 23-0 by winning the 103-pound weight class at the Walsh tournament last Saturday. Coach Ron Ortivez said he could not remember any wrestler going into the tournament undefeated and walking away with a first place medal until now. Adam wrestled in five matches to claim victory. His toughest match of the day came at the hands of Nick Namos of Holly. Namos was ranked number four in the state in last week’s polls. Beating ranked grapplers is routine for Ortivez. Adam defeated Eli Perez last week. Perez was the number three ranked wrestler in 3A. According to his coach, “There’s not a lot of pressure on him. He’s a calm kid. He’s taking it one match at a time.”
Stephen Kimbrel (145 pounds) also went into the tournament undefeated but had trouble with two opponents. According to Coach Ortivez, “he was ahead by an average of 7 points in the matches but got caught in situations he could not overcome.” Kimbrel was able to compensate and claimed fifth place. Stephen’s record is now 20-2.
Ron Ortivez III (19-2 at 152 lbs.) had one previous loss last week and finished second as did Nick Northup and Jake Ferrari. Jake had been out most of the season due to injury but Coach Ortivez said he’s looking exceptional, and he expects great things from Jake.
James Smalley finished in sixth place.
La Veta will be at the Trinidad tournament this Saturday. This tournament will give the Redskin grapplers an opportunity to wrestle future opponents whom they will undoubtedly meet at Regional Competition at the end of the season.
Lady Redskins dominate weekend
LA VETA- It was a long weekend for the La Veta Redskins. The team opened at home on Thurs. Jan. 16 and closed Saturday on the road in Westcliffe against the Custer County Cougars. All the games provided an air of excitement, but the feature game occurred at home last Thursday as the Hoehne Farmers brought their rivalry to La Veta. The Lady Redskins lived up to expectations and handed the Farmers their fifth loss of the season, 52-47, in this electrifying overtime victory.
Sami Willhoite got things rolling for the Skins with the game’s opening two scores. Emily Moll closed the first quarter with a pair of free throws to give the Skins a comfortable 12-6 lead.
La Veta relinquished the early lead to find themselves playing catch-up in the second. The Skins got into foul trouble midway in the second allowing the Farmers to take the lead when Nicole Paradisa sank two freebies for the 21-20 edge.
The game continued to go back and forth for the balance of the second and well into the third. La Veta missed eight first-half free throws. According to Coach Smith, “We didn’t play a very good first half.”
Both teams had opportunities to pull away, but mental errors and turnovers kept the score close through most of the third. Hoehne was ahead by five, 34-29, with seventeen seconds remaining. Farmer Stephany Navarette opted to take a long outside shot which rimmed out. Moll grabbed the rebound, drove the ball downtown for two and was fouled as the quarter ended to bring La Veta within two, 34-32.
The Lady Skins opened the fourth with a 5-0 run when Shelby Morgan took the opening in-bound pass up the court for 3. After a Farmer turnover, the ball found itself in the hands of freshman Isabel Martinez who drove the lane for an easy lay-up and the 39-36 lead. La Veta continued to execute a full-court press in the fourth quarter, forcing the Farmers to take off-balance shots and shutting down their ability to drive the inside. Shelby Morgan, Shea Brgoch and Christina Koutnik were dominant under the boards, but their follow-up shots would not fall.
The Skins maintained their lead until 1:23 remained in the game and Paradisa went to the line. Her first shot went in, but the second rimmed out only to be rebounded by Farmer Jonlyn McDonald and dropped for two points. Hoehne took the lead 43-41 with time running out. Morgan found an opening in the lane but was fouled. She sank both free throws to tie it up with 52 seconds remaining. The Skins continued their full-court press, guarding close enough, but not enough to foul. Hoehne’s Navarette had her chance to claim victory but her shot fell short with 13 seconds remaining. Hoehne grabbed the rebound, missed, then missed again. This time Christina Koutnik cleared the boards. A timeout was called with 8 seconds remaining, giving the Skins one last shot at victory. The play was set, the ball in-bounded, but the shot rimmed out as time ran out, forcing overtime, 43-43.
Hoehne controlled the tip in this three-minute overtime, but a steal by Willhoite took the ball all the way for two. La Veta never looked back. Hoehne failed to score on their next opportunity and subsequently fouled Willhoite. Her two points gave the Skins a comfortable lead. The Skins would not relax their full-court pressure, interfering with the Farmer’s ability to shoot. The Skins dominated the period and claimed victory.
Willhoite dropped 17 points for the night; Morgan contributed 18. After the game, Smith said, “We had a great second half. We made the free throws when it mattered.”
On Friday night La Veta defeated Sargent 47-35 in league action. Sargent was expected to take the league title this season, but the Redskins had different plans. Morgan again led all scoring with 18. On Saturday evening the Skins dominated Custer County 58-22. Morgan exploded for 28 points. According to Smith, “The girls played strong defense all around, especially their full-court pressure. Their victory gives the Lady Skins an 8-1 record. As of last week’s polls, they were not rated, but look out league. The Lady Redskins should not be overlooked.
Lady Panthers rock
ORDWAY- The Lady Panthers entered the Charger Pit and silenced the crowd with an impressive 56-49 victory over Crowley County.
The Panthers controlled the opening tip scoring the first points of the game from an outside jumper by Desi Aguirre. The game went back and forth for most of the first in what was shaping up to be a barn burner. Both teams executed a full-court press, which caused several turnovers with scores. This quarter would also see aggressive play by the Chargers who got into foul trouble early, enabling the Lady Panthers to hit the line. Charger starter Mandy Pickeril received her third foul early in the second and sat out the remainder of the half. This allowed the Panthers to control the half.
Panther Kristin David broke a tie early in the second with a pair of free throws. Aguirre converted her free throws. The Panthers were controlling the ball well and maintaining their lead, 31-25, until late in the second when a ‘charging call’ against David put the Chargers at the line. The call sent Coach Bustos to his feet. The Charger player ended up on David’s back off a rebound, but the officials saw it differently. This call seemed to shift the momentum to the Charger side as they rattled off four straight points to put them back into the game, 31-29. This call was typical of their hometown officiating all night. A late Charger foul with .1 seconds remaining put David to the line. At half, the Cats led 33-29.
In the third, the Cats took the opening pass and scored, but the Chargers came zipping back with five unanswered points to narrow the margin by 1. On the next possession, Charger starter Sesally Kuhn, who had 14 first-half points, committed her fourth personal foul and she sat out most of the second half. This put Katie Monahan to the line where she went 1 of 1, giving the Panthers a 2-point advantage. The next play, a defensive rebound by Monahan and fast break score put the Cats ahead by 4. They would not look back Aggressive defense on the part of the Panthers shut down the Charger offense, allowing only two buckets. The Panthers out-rebounded Crowley, forced turnovers and dominated the boards. By the end of the third, the Panthers were in control, 47-38.
As the fourth quarter began, the Chargers executed a full-court press while the Cats retreated to a zone defense, hoping to halt the Charger comeback attempt. The Chargers pulled within six, 48-42, before the Lady Panthers dug deep and found the strength to take control of the game. A feed to Monahan under the nets was all they needed. She drove it in for two and once again, the Cats enjoyed an 8-point lead. With 2:41 remaining, the Cats led 52-47. A David steal and breakaway lay-up all but sealed the Charger’s fate. For the Cats, David exploded with 30 points, her season high, while Monahan had 10 and Aguirre hit 9.
On Saturday, the eighth-ranked team in the state, the Fountain Valley Danes, came to town and defeated the Lady Cats 73-37. In true Panther spirit, the Lady Cats never gave up and played the Danes right up until the final buzzer.
Panthers grappling away
WALSENBURG- The John Mall Panthers have been busy the past two weeks preparing for the balance of the season, which will include the Trinidad and Valley Classic Tournaments. Two weeks ago, the Panthers traveled to Thornton to compete in the Ralston Valley Classic. There they faced teams that participate mostly in the 5A and 4A class. Last weekend they went to Alamosa where they competed against schools from larger districts. Waylon Cordova took fifth and Justin Pacheco took sixth. According to Josh Vialpando, “We like competing against the larger schools because it gives our guys tough competition.” Vialpando also indicated his grapplers will not meet many of their district competitors until Regionals. This week’s match in Trinidad will be one of the times this season where they may face other wrestlers who will also be at Regional Competition.
Redskins drop three
LA VETA- The La Veta boys dropped three games last weekend. On Thursday, the visiting Hoehne Farmers came to town and brought with them a rivalry spanning many years. The game lived up to all the hype and in the end, the Skins lost 56-54. The game was a back and forth offensive fest even down to the very end. La Veta had one shot at the end of the game, with one second remaining, but the inbound pass from their own sideline was dropped. According to Coach Kreutzer, “We couldn’t get them to drop like we would have liked, and we didn’t box out like we needed to in the first half.” He praised his team by saying, “We only committed a total of 13 turnovers. Our goal is less than 18.” La Veta was playing without the help of their leading scorer and rebounder, Dakota Mason, who transferred to Paris, Texas last week. Kreutzer stated he was proud that everyone really stepped up to the task. Dalton Mason hit 22 points, Franklin Geiser hit 13. Trey Price was the team’s leading rebounder.
The following night the team traveled to Sargent and was beaten 67-41. The Skin’s offense went cold in the second half, scoring only 13 points. The loss to Sargent was their first league loss.
The Redskins were not done yet. The team traveled to Westcliffe to face the number 3 team in the state, the Custer County Cougars. The Skins held their own for most of the game, but in the end found themselves on the short side of the clock, 61-47. The Cougars opened up an 8-point halftime lead, which proved to be too much for the Skins to overcome. Custer maintained their lead, controlling the ball and shutting down La Veta’s ability to score.
The Skins next opponent will be against Sanford Friday then they will travel to Sangre de Cristo on Saturday.
Junior High basketball
WALSENBURG– The John Mall Junior High seventh and eighth grade girl′s basketball program is off to a fast start. They have been playing since the first week in January and playing hard. The season opened Jan. 8 against La Junta. The seventh grade won easily 36-6. High scorers were Sarah Encinias with 12 and Karley Lasley with 8. The eighth grade girls also won big 51-3. High scorer was Deborah Aguirre with 14; Angelica Souza and Santana Ward each had 10.
On Jan. 10, both teams lost close matches to Hoehne; 20-16 and 25-19. The girls saw action once again, this time on Jan. 13 against Manzanola. Both teams came up short 28-21 and 38-18. Rhea Hibpshman was high for the seventh grade team, scoring 13. On Jan. 15, the seventh grade girls found victory against Trinidad 36-8. The eighth grade girls did not play. Hibpshman hit 12, while Encinias, Brittany Martinez, Rebecca Uebler and Tiffany Vigil each had 4. The team saw action on Jan. 17 against Hoehne, again losing two closely fought games.
According to Coach Aaron Vallejos, "We started practice immediately after the boys finished their season. This meant the girls have sacrificed some time off to practice over the holiday break. The thing I am happiest about is we′ve been competitive in all our games except a couple."
This fast-paced season continues with a game against Fowler today and with Raton at home on Tuesday. The ladies will have three more games after that. For a complete roster of games with these dedicated young ladies see next week’s Huerfano Journal.