Sierra Grande basketball earns two big wins at home

Arthur Rodriguez (3) wows the crowd by slamming down a steal early in Sierra Grande's home win over Antonito on Friday evening. Rodriguez led the Panthers with 23 points, Sierra Grande went on to win 62-40.

BLANCA— On Friday night Blanca hosted the Antonito Trojans for a 1A mixer. The lady Panthers (5-4-0) shocked the 8th ranked Trojans (7-3-0) in a 61-51 game. The Sierra Grande boys (6-3-0) gave a similar performance with a 62-40 victory over Antonito’s boys (0-9-0).

Friday night looked to be an uphill battle for Sierra Grande’s girls as they were facing a ranked team stocked with talent like seniors Erykah Tallman and Joslyn Garcia. And when the game got underway things looked like they were going down that path with Antonito opening a 21-10 lead early in the second quarter.

Early in the second the Trojans suffered the loss of Tallman to what appeared to be a leg injury. At first the loss didn’t seem to hinder the Antonito girls as they carried on and even took a 32-20 lead into the locker rooms. It was when Tallman returned from the midway point wearing her warm-ups over her jersey that the reality seemed to set in for Antonito.

Nina Vigil attract drives the lane against Antonito on Friday evening. Vigil went 3 of 4 from three point land  to lead the Panthers with 17 points.

The momentum shift was almost a physical entity. While the void left by Tallman did hinder Antonito’s ability to control the post and attack the perimeters, it seemed the larger void was her emotional presence as the Trojans looked out of sorts even lost at times.
Sierra Grande smelled the blood in the water and struck, capitalizing on turnovers and missed shots. Five minutes later Sierra Grande’s Annahy Quezada buried the go-ahead free-throw to give the Panthers their first lead of the game. The final chapter would open with Sierra Grande owning a 49-41 advantage.

Sierra Grande didn’t rest, a guided attack led by Abby Corona helped Sierra Grande nurture and maintain their lead all the way to the 61-51 conclusion. Senior Nina Vigil paced the Panthers with 17 points. Vigil also led the team in rebounds (7), assists (5) and steals (6). Joslyn Garcia and Shandiin Tallman would lead the Trojans with 14 points each. Both Garcia and Shandiin Tallman would tie for the team lead in rebounds with 4. With the win Sierra Grande gets on the correct side of .500 with 5 wins.

Sierra Grande’s boys came back from the break last week with a 90-26 rout over the Centennial Rams in San Luis culminating in a two game run for the boys over the two month period. Antonito’s boys entered Friday looking to get their first win of the season.
The boy’s game would start with a 9-2 run in Sierra Grande’s favor. Early in the second the Panthers would reinforce their control with a breakaway dunk by Arthur Rodriguez to make it 18-6. Sierra Grande would close the first half having doubled up on the Trojans 28-14.

Arthur Rodriguez (3) goes hard to the hoop as Jonathan Duran and Austin Abeyta look on for Antonito. Rodriguez worked exclusively inside 20 feet to collect his fifth double-double of the season with a team leading 23 points and 12 rebounds (Courier photos by Stephen Jiron)

Antonito ramped up their offense in the second half by 46 percent going from 14 points in the first half to 26 points in the second. Even with the offense coming on late they were still falling behind trading with Sierra Grande as the Panthers would outrun them to the 62-40 finale. Arthur Rodriguez polished off another double-double, his fifth of the season. Rodriguez led the Panthers in points and rebounds getting 23 points and pulling down 12 boards. John Duran took the lead for Antonito with 14 points.

Both teams are right back to the court on Saturday night Sierra Grande will go on the road to face the Moffat Cowboys in Moffat at 2 p.m. Antonito will host La Veta with varsity girls and boys starting at 5 and 7 p.m respectively.