Panther girls, Mustang boys shine to close out month
The latter half of January brought some great basketball to Grand County, with the four respective teams from Middle Park and West Grand high schools going a combined 10-5 over the last two weeks. With their seasons rapidly coming to a close, both the Mustangs and Panthers will try to find a way to capitalize on closing out the month strong.
Middle Park Girls
The Lady Panthers are sitting pretty. At 8-4 they are not only the best team in the county, but the best team in their league as well, going a perfect 5-0 against Frontier opponents thus far, and outscoring league opponents 279-131.
The Middle Park Girls are on a 4 game winning steak after a disappointing defeat to Salida on Jan. 16. Over their last four games against DSST: Stapleton, Platte Canyon, Bruce Randolph and Lake County the Panthers are outscoring their opponents 225-110, and haven’t surrendered more than 40 points in any contest.
Junior Haiden Baker has been phenomenal this season leading the team in points (84) and rebounds (74), and is currently shooting at a 46 percent clip. In just seven games Senior Bailey Martin is leading the team in points-per-game (7.7), blocks (4), and is second in rebounds-per-game (6.4) trailing only Baker. Junior Erica Weimer has also shined, sitting at second on the team in points (72) and rebounds (52), and is tied for the lead in blocks (4).
Up next for Middle Park is a tasty road matchup against the 0-15 Sheridan Rams on Feb. 2. The Panthers are averaging more than 20 points-per-game better than the Rams, and have a great shot to move to 9-4.
After Sheridan the Panthers return home for a good game against the 9-5 Academy Wildcats.
Middle Park Boys
The Middle Park Boys team hasn’t faired quite as well as the girls this season, sitting at a miserable 3-10 record, but they’ve picked it up lately, winning two of their last three.
The Panthers broke a three game losing steak by defeating the 3-11 Platte Canyon Huskies on Jan. 26, 58-31. Middle Park was almost able to record their first winning streak of the season a day later against the 4-8 Bruce Randolph Grizzlies, but fell in a 54-58 heartbreaker on the road.
The Panthers bounced back against the 1-13 Lake County Panthers on Jan. 30, taking home a 51-35 road victory.
The Panthers will look to keep their momentum alive on Friday against the 5-10 Sheridan Rams. The Rams are averaging more than 54 points-per-game compared to Middle Park’s 43.5, but also giving up more points. The Rams have allowed more than 62 points-per-game this season compared to 58 for the Panthers.
After Sheridan the Panthers return home for a tough game against the 9-5 Academy Wildcats on Feb. 3.
West Grand Boys
The Mustangs have been red-hot of late; winning four of their last five after snapping a four-game skid with a 59-41 win at North Park on Jan. 13. Following the North Park victory the Mustangs won a 52-49 nail-biter at Vail Mountain, before falling back down to earth in a 65-49 home loss to Plateau Valley.
West Grand wasn’t down for long, however, dominating a 1-12 Caprock Academy Eagles team, 59-31, followed by a 51-47 road win against the 1-12 Hayden Tigers.
Junior Luis Dominguez is having a big year, leading the team in points (140) and steals (47), and is currently second on the team in rebounds (68), assists (36) and blocks (7). Senior Jake Bentler is leading the team in assists (38), and is second on the team in points (110) and steals (42). Senior Josh O’Hotto is leading the team in rebounds (90) and blocks (10).
The Mustangs are currently sitting in the middle of the pack in the Western Slope standings with a 4-3-league record, and most of the bottom level teams already marked off the calendar.
West Grand will get a home matchup against the 3-11 Rams on Friday before their schedule stiffens with the 10-5 Paonia Eagles on Feb. 3 and the 10-4 Hotckiss Bulldogs on Feb. 9.
West Grand Girls
The West Grand Girls have struggle for most of the season, but have begun to rebound in the second half, winning two of their last three. After a disheartening 10 game losing streak following an opening day victory, the Mustangs finally got back in the win column against Plateau Valley on Jan. 20, beating the 5-7 Cowboys, 50-36.
A week later the Mustangs made it two in a row for the first time this season after dominating a hapless 0-12 Caprock Academy team on Jan. 26, 64-26. The modest winning streak came to an end on Saturday against the 4-10 Hayden Tigers.
Despite the team struggles, Sophomore Emma Desanti has emerged as a potential star for the next couple years. Desanti is leading the team in points (131), and is currently sitting in second in steals (22) and third in assists (15). Junior Anna Douglass is also having a great season, leading the team in rebounds (88) and assists (20), and is second in points (87). Senior Hailey Mcnichols is third on the team in scoring (84), second in rebounds (87), and second in blocks (10). Senior Ralin Corrales is leading the team in steals (48), and Senior Sydney Ritschard is leading in blocks (31).
Up next for the Mustangs is a difficult home game against the 11-3 Soroco Rams. In the same number of games this season the Rams have scored almost 250 points more than the Mustangs, and allowed over 100 less. The Mustangs then head on the road to take on the 9-5 Paonia Eagles on Feb. 3.
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