BAYFIELD – The Montezuma-Cortez boys basketball team outworked and outhustled longtime rival Durango High School in the first game of the 2018 Southwest Classic to earn a 68-46 victory Friday night at Bayfield High School
The Demons started the first quarter on fire from 3-point land and hit three of their first four shots from deep. But as the quarter wore on, the Panthers found success getting into the paint and trailed just 16-15 to start the second quarter.
“One thing with my boys is they don’t ever quit. They could come out flat and be down a little bit, but they’ll just fight and fight and fight,” Panthers head coach Michael Hall said. “They’re scrappy and that’s what I like about them. When they get down, they’re gonna keep fighting to get back in it.”
The hot shooting didn’t last for the Demons and the Panthers went on an 11-0 run through the first 4 minutes, 49 seconds of the second quarter that built a 26-16 lead. During the run, Cortez did a lot of its damage by outworking Durango on the boards and grabbed multiple offensive rebounds that turned into second-chance points.
“We got beat on boards. Turnovers and second-chance points have been our nemesis for the whole season,” DHS head coach Alan Batiste said. “If we cut those down and minimize other team’s possessions, we’ll be all right. We have to start boxing out. That’s basically it.”
The Panthers led 33-24 at halftime.
Durango got its offense going again in the third quarter and cut the Panthers’ lead to two points at 36-34 with a little less than 3 minutes to go in the quarter. But the Panthers answered with back-to-back 3-pointers and finished the quarter on a 12-2 run and took a 48-36 lead into the final quarter.
“We called timeout and I told the guys they needed to pick it back up. We have a hard time coming out of halftime and it’s something we have to fix,” Hall said. “But we called that timeout and I told them they had to pick it up and start attacking, and that’s what they did.”
The Panthers’ momentum carried into the fourth quarter and they took advantage of the Demons, who started to turn the ball over, by getting out on fastbreaks for easy buckets.
Cortez sophomore Teagan Whiteskunk led all scorers with 28 points. Cordell Baer added 15 points for the Panthers.
Seth Johnson led Durango with 17 points. Quelan Mestas added 12 points and Cullen Robinette finished with 11 for the Demons.
The Panthers will face Ignacio in the tournament at 3 p.m. Saturday at BHS, while the Demons will meet Bayfield for the 5 p.m. game.