BLANCA — The game between the Panthers and Cowboys would come down to the wire with Sierra Grande (5-7) taking a 66-62 victory over visiting Mountain Valley-Moffat (2-5).
This season is off to a bit of a rocky start for Sierra Grande. The Panthers opened their season with a win over last year’s State Championship runner-up, South Baca (6-6). They would follow that up with a four game skid before they snapped the streak against Manzanola (2-9). Since then consistency has been elusive as the Panthers have spotted between wins and losses.
Things haven’t been much easier for Mountain Valley-Moffat. The co-op team has picked up their two wins at the hands of Antonito (0-10) and Centennial (4-7). Both teams were ready to compete on Saturday night and it showed.
While Sierra Grande would take the lead early the Cowboys would stay in striking distance for the majority for the first frame closing the quarter with a 7-2 run to claim their first lead of the game. Holding a 17-13 lead entering the second quarter of play Mountain Valley-Moffat began to struggle in the second quarter. The Cowboys went 22 percent from the field and made good on 6 of their 16 free throw attempts to collect 10 points.
The Panthers would take advantage of their opponent's imbalance. For Sierra Grande senior Ambrosio Mondragon came on strong with 9 second quarter points to catapult his team to a 34-27 lead at the half. Mondragon would finish his day leading Sierra Grande in scoring with 17 points. Sierra Grande would pace Moffat all the way to the final quarter where the Cowboys would begin to mount their comeback.
Midway through the fourth the Panthers sported a 10-point lead. In less than a minute a Cowboy rally halved that advantage. Late in the fourth quarter the cards were shuffled as players from both teams would hit their foul limit. Sierra Grande would lose AJ Ojeda and productive scorer Caleb Scharsch to fouls. Scharsch finished with 14 points in the win. Mountain Valley-Moffat lost two key pieces in Van Keith and Elijah Roberts. The latter was particularly crippling to the Cowboy’s comeback because at the time Mountain Valley-Moffat had closed the gap to a 62-59 deficit. Roberts finished his day with a team leading 19 points.
With under two minutes to play and their team’s primary threat nullified Sierra Grande sealed the 66-62 win.
Looking down the stretch for the Panthers there are only a couple tests left as Cotopaxi (8-6) and Sangre de Cristo (10-1) are the only teams in Sierra Grande’s remaining schedule that hold winning records. Mountain Valley-Moffat is back in action Feb. 1 when they host Manzanola.