Middle Park girls lose two close games, look forward to home tournament | SkyHiNews.com

Middle Park girls lose two close games, look forward to home tournament

Will Bublitz
Sky-Hi Daily News

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News

During its second week of action for the new season, Middle Park High’s girls basketball team fought hard but lost close home games to West Grand and Battle Mountain.

In their Friday, Dec. 7, game, the Lady Panthers fell to the Mustang girls 41-36. Then on Saturday, Dec. 8, Middle Park’s hoopsters fell 34-32 to Battle Mountain.

“It was a tough weekend with two very close games,” said coach Cheri Amos. “We’re a young team with eight of our 11 players new to the varsity this season, but all of them gave their best efforts and played hard to the last second. The way they’re playing, I really believe this is going to turn out to be a really nice ball team.”

Friday was Middle Park’s first home game of the season. It turned into a hotly contested game as the two county rivals battled for dominance with West Grand’s girls emerging the winners 41-36.

“Both teams put in a lot of effort and we’re pressing each other in what was a very intense game,” Amos said. “We lost by five points, but the good thing is that 10 of 11 of our players scored.”

The Lady Mustangs took a two-point lead by the end of the first quarter and pushed their lead to five by halftime. In the third quarter, it looked as if West Grand might run away with the victory after taking a 10-point lead, but the Lady Panthers battled back in the final quarter to cut down the gap to five points.

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“When we play West Grand, it is always a good game,” Amos said. “Both teams played hard from start to finish.”

Amos praised the performance of several of her players.

“Brittnay Gardner scored seven and picked up six rebounds,” she said. “Brittnay is one of our players who has jumped forward and is giving a really good effort.

“Another is Kristin Van Horn who earned six points. She is a really aggressive defensive player with a lot of court sense and is developing a good eye for the plays.

“Emily Abbott also had a good game, earning five points and making four rebounds.

And another consistent player was Shelley McLean who scored two points and made nine rebounds,” Amos said.

One of the most positive aspects of Friday’s game for Middle Park was in its rebounding.

“We’ve really been trying to pick up our rebounding,” Amos said. “In the game with West Grand, we earned 22 offensive and 18 defensive rebounds which was our strongest effort to date.”

On Saturday, the Lady Panthers hosted Battle Mountain and lost a close one 34-32. Middle Park led in the first half, but their opponents put on a strong push in the second half to win it by two points.

“Battle Mountain came back, picking at us in the second half,” Amos said. “What hurt us is sending them to the foul line, where they outshot us.”

Amos said the team has been working on reducing its fouls, bringing them down to 15 in Saturday’s game compared to 23 in the West Grand game.

“Battle Mountain did well in their free-throw shooting while we made eight of 18, which hurt us,” she said. “We need to make a concentrated effort on that.”

Several Lady Panthers came in for more praise for their performances.

“It was another outstanding game for Rachel Linke who earned 13 points and eight rebounds,” Amos said. “Compared to last year, she has come very far by playing more aggressively, crashing the boards and taking charge in the back court. She is really working as hard as she can and is doing a great job.

“And Emily Abbott played another solid game. She scored five and pulled down several rebounds for us. She made her presence known.”

Amos said what really pleased her was the team’s balanced scoring. In addition to Linke and Abbott, she pointed to five points earned by McLean, the three points apiece by Gardner and Nichole Fuqua, and the two points each by Van Horn and Lindsey Birdseye.

Middle Park’s lady hoopsters will be playing their next games at home again this week as they host the Mountain Parks Electric 2007 Fourth Annual High Country Invitational. It will be held today through Saturday.

In today’s competition, the Lady Panther varsity will be in a rematch with West Grand’s Lady Mustangs in a game that starts at 3 p.m.

The home tournament continues Friday with Middle Park’s varsity playing the Lady Panther junior varsity at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday’s competition for the Panthers is at 1:30 p.m. when they take on Meeker’s varsity.

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