Lady Panthers coming home

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Miranda Elliott collides with Shanelle Bogus (20) Thursday night in Durango. The Lady Panthers lost, 45-28.

By Bobby Abplanalp Journal staff writer

DURANGO - The Lady Panthers basketball team is making positive strides.

However, the road was too much once again.

Durango led from start to finish, as Montezuma-Cortez High School fell Thursday night, 45-28.

"I'm really happy with how far we've come with the few number of upperclassmen we have," Lady Panthers coach Justine Bayles said. "My freshmen and sophomores seem to step up to the plate. We're getting there."

M-CHS (0-13, 0-5 5A/4A Southwestern League) has had a long season away from home.

That's about to change.

The Lady Panthers will play their remaining five games at Ron Wright Memorial Gym. Much needed rest may be the key for M-CHS to finally break into the win column.

"We've been traveling a lot," Lady Panthers upstart freshman Simone Lopez said. "We've been working hard. When we play them (Durango) at our home, we're going to dominate. I'm pretty sure."

Durango (9-5, 2-3 SWL) and M-CHS battled each other on the defensive end. There were a combined 79 turnovers in the game. The Lady Panthers forced 30 turnovers, but committed an alarming 49.

Bayles was pleased with her team's strong defensive effort. But M-CHS is still searching for consistent offensive production.

"The girls played tough defense tonight and that's what I've been looking for," Bayles said. "Durango had a good third quarter. I would like to see my girls drive the paint a little more than they did tonight."

Durango led 12-6 after the first quarter. Lopez tried to keep the Lady Panthers in it, scoring six points in the second frame. But the Demons still led at halftime, 20-12.

Turnovers were especially key in the third quarter. Durango capitalized on the Lady Panthers' miscues to build a 37-21 lead after three.

The Demons out-scored M-CHS 8-7 in the fourth quarter resulting in the final margin.

"I'm happy to have the home stretch," Bayles said. "Everyone on the team can kind of get their feet back under them on the court and academically. We can really finish the season strong."

Lopez and Nicole Demby led the Lady Panthers with six points apiece.

"We were doing pretty good in the first and second quarter. When we got to the third, I guess we kind of dropped it," Lopez said. "We picked it back up. We know what our mistakes are and we'll just fix them."

Katie Wiegert scored a game high 10 for Durango.

M-CHS will host Grand Junction Central and Fruita Monument next Friday and Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and noon.

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