Fired-up Panther girls drop thriller in Dolores

‘I was never so proud,’ coach McHenry says

Chantel Manuel shoots a basket Saturday against Dolores. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Chantel Manuel shoots a basket Saturday against Dolores.

Matching up against Dolores High School on Dec. 11, the Montezuma-Cortez High School girls basketball team found itself locked in a battle for the ages.

Expending maximum effort and playing with a fire seldom seen in recent seasons, the Panthers fought valiantly, but came up just short, falling 55-54 in what turned out to be a highly entertaining contest.

After trailing 13-12 after the conclusion of the first quarter, the Panthers played some of their finest basketball of the season in the second frame to enter halftime tied with Dolores 27-27.

Buoyed by the play of junior posts Abby Chupp and Savannah Jacket and sophomore posts Chantelle Manuel and Savannah Jacket, the Panthers hung tough throughout the second half, trailing 41-35 after the third quarter and 55-54 late in the fourth.

“We had a ton of layups,” said Panthers’ head coach John McHenry of his team’s play in the second half. We had the post game working.”

Forced to foul late in the fourth quarter, the Panthers rebounded a missed free throw and got the ball into the hands of sophomore guard Yannabah Bayless.

After driving the ball through the Dolores defense, Bayless found junior Katrina Lee open in the corner.

Quickly swarmed by the Dolores defense, Lee passed the ball back to Bayless, whose potential game winning shot from the top of the key glanced off the rim, giving Dolores a 55-54 victory.

Even with the loss however, McHenry expressed satisfaction with what he termed as his team’s best effort of the season.

“I was never so proud of my girls,” said McHenry. “I love them to death. We fought our way back and gave ourselves a last second shot.”

Leading the Panthers in scoring were Chupp with ten points and Manual with nine points.

With their season record now at 0-8, the Panthers will continue practicing in preparation for a home matchup against Fruita Monument on Jan. 17.