Middle Park Girls end season in dominant fashion
The basketball season is crawling towards a slow, merciful end for most of the teams in Grand County, as the month of February brought nothing but heartache for everyone but the Middle Park Panthers Girl’s Team. The two teams from West Grand and the boys from Middle Park have gone a combined 2-12 so far this month, and are hoping for better luck in the district tournaments.
Middle Park Girls
The Lady Panthers went on an absolute tear to finish out the regular season, going 6-1 over the final month and winning 10 out of their last 11. Despite ups and downs earlier in the year, the Panthers put it all together to finish 14-5 in dominant fashion.
Middle Park defeated a soft 2-17 Sheridan Ram team 46-11 on Feb. 2, holding the Rams to just two points in the first half. But that wasn’t even the most convincing win of the streak. After dispatching the tough 12-7 Academy Wildcats 35-27, the Panthers absolutely demolished the winless Jefferson Saints, 62-9, holding the Saints scoreless in the first and fourth quarters.
The Panthers defeated a competitive 14-5 Bennett Tigers team in a 46-45 nail-biter, before finally falling to the 17-2 Clear Creek Golddiggers, 54-23. Middle Park finished out the season with a 53-18 win over the 2-16 KIPP Denver Collegiate Tigers, and a 42-26 win over the 9-10 Arrupe Jesuit Generals.
Junior Haiden Baker had an outstanding season, leading the team in points (133), and rebounds (113). Junior Erica Weimer also had a great season, finishing second on the team in points (115), rebounds (77), assists (22), and blocks (7) as well as finishing first in steals (41).
Senior Bailey Martin finished fourth in points (90), second in rebounds (77) and first in blocks (8). Senior Kiera Barr came in third on the team in points (95), fifth in rebounds (67), fourth in assists (19) and second in steals (30). Senior Britney Rangel was fifth on the team in points (72), fourth in rebounds (68), first in assists (24) and fourth in steals (29).
The Panthers finished second in Frontier League standings with an 11-1 record against league opponents, trailing only Clear Creek.
The district tournament schedule has not yet been released. Last year the Panthers entered the Frontier bracket as the number three seed, and eventually lost to The Academy in the district championship. They made the 3A State Championship Tournament as the number 28 seed, and lost to Faith Christian in the first round.
Middle Park Boys
The Middle Park Boy’s Team opened up the month with a 44-33 win against the 7-12 Sheridan Rams, but things went downhill from there quickly. The Panthers lost their last five games of the year and dropped to a disappointing 4-15 on the season.
The Panthers lost to the 14-5 Academy Wildcats, 64-51; the 16-3 Jefferson Saints, 71-52; the 5-14 Bennett Tigers, 53-49; the 13-6 Clear Creek Golddiggers, 80-67; and finally to the 6-13 KIPP Denver Collegiate Tigers, 54-51.
Junior Jackson Wolle had a great season, leading the team in points (154) and blocks (16), and coming in third in rebounds (71) and assists (23). Junior Aironas Bilevicius came in second in points (149) and rebounds (76), third in steals (31) and fourth in assists (22).
Junior Ben Kuhnel finished first in blocks (16) and rebounds (77), and second in steals (35). Sophomore Evan Laraby finished first on the team in both assists (27) and steals (40).
The Panthers finished 11th in the Frontier League, going 3-9 in league games. Last year Middle Park entered the district tournament as the eighth seed, and defeated Jefferson High School before dropping to DSST: Stapleton in the second round. The bracket for the district tournament hasn’t been released.
West Grand Boys
The West Grand Mustangs started the month off right with a 52-38 win over the 4-14 Soroco Rams, but lost their last three to drop to 8-10 with just one regular season game remaining.
After the convincing win over Soroco, the Mustangs went on the road where they took a hard 73-44 loss against the 12-6 Paonia Eagles. West Grand returned home where they were defeated in a close 60-51 game against the 12-6 Hotchkiss Bulldogs, before heading back on the road for a 72-31 stomping at the hands of the 13-5 Rangely Panthers.
Junior Luis Dominguez has been a major contributor for the Mustangs this season, leading the team in points (168), assists (50) and steals (60), and is sitting in second in rebounds (86) and blocks (11). Senior Jake Bentler is second on the team in points (147), assists (49) and steals (47). Senior Josh O’Hotto is leading the team in blocks (13) and rebounds (104).
The Mustangs are currently sitting in seventh in the Western Slope standings, with a 5-6-league record. They have a chance to move into sixth place if they can get a win in their final regular season game, a home bout against the 11-5 De Beque Dragons on Feb. 17. The Dragons are averaging 61.4 points-per-game, and allowing 51.6 PPG, both of which lead the Mustangs’ marks of 47.9 and 52.8 respectively.
West Grand Girls
The Lady Mustangs looked like they may be staging a late season resurgence after back-to-back wins near the end of January, but a brutal five game losing streak followed, sinking West Grand to a dismal 3-15 record on the year.
After a tough 34-28 loss against the Hayden Tigers to close out January, the Mustangs lost to the 15-3 Soroco Rams, 56-40; the 12-6 Paonia Eagles, 35-23; the 8-9 Hotchkiss Bulldogs, 54-42; and the 15-3 Rangely Panthers, 65-31.
Sophomore Emma Desanti is having a nice season, sitting first on the team in points (160), second in steals (23), and third in assists (23) and blocks (10). Senior Hailey Mcnichols is first on the team in rebounds (115), and second in blocks (15) and points (112). Junior Anna Douglas is second in points (112), assists (23) and rebounds (105). Senior Sydney Ritschard is leading the team in blocks (41), and is third in rebounds (80). Senior Jerrika Jones is leading the team in assists (27).
The Mustangs are currently sitting in 11th place in the Western Slope standings with a 2-8 league record. With one more game to go, however, a win could potentially jump West Grand into eighth.
The Mustangs will take on the 7-8 De Beque Dragons at home on Feb. 17. The Dragons appear to have the edge on paper, scoring and allowing 41.7 points-per-game, compared to the Mustangs who score 35.5 and allow 44.6 points-per-game.
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