Sierra Grande tops Cotopaxi in District 6 showdown

Arthur Rodriguez glides for a jumper during Friday's victory over Cotopaxi. Rodriguez matched his high ranking averages by registering another 30 points. (Photo courtesy Aaron Parrill)

BLANCA — The Panthers basketball team hosted district rival Cotopaxi on Friday night to favorable results for the home crowd. The lady Panthers stayed consistent to produce a 52-31 victory while the Sierra Grande boys utilized a big second quarter to roll over Cotopaxi 74-49.

The Sierra Grande girls have found a nice rhythm as the season winds down as winners of the last six before their game against Cotopaxi. Sophomore Randi Espinoza spearheaded the attack for the Panthers in the first quarter with 8 points. Espinoza would go on to score 19 points for Sierra Grande with a perfect percentage from the charity stripe and three 3-pointers.

The Panthers would keep Cotopaxi to just four in the second quarter to take a 28-11 lead into the locker room. Abby Corona came on strong in the second half to propel Sierra Grande the rest of the way with 9 second-half points. Corona was second in scoring for Sierra Grande with 15 points.

Despite the Pirates coming on in the fourth quarter it would be the only quarter they would out score the host Panthers as Sierra Grande coasted to their seventh in a row.

Sierra Grande’s boys have created a similar run, as they are winners of their last 7 before Cotopaxi. The Panthers opened up against Cotopaxi rather cold mustering 11 points for a close game separated by only three points. Sierra Grande hit the after-burners in the second quarter and ran away with the game.

18 points between Arthur Rodriguez and Caleb Sanchez helped the Panthers to their most productive quarter of the game and a comfortable 37-22 lead going into the half. Rodriguez would have another productive game topping out at 30 points to lead the Panthers.

Rodriguez holds the number three spot  in the state according to CHSAAnow averaging 30 points per game.  According to MaxPreps, Rodriguez’s points per game have him ranked no 39 in the nation. The third quarter was a big one for both teams as the Pirates and Panthers combined for 37 points but that wouldn’t stop Sierra Grande from breezing to a 74-49 finale.

The Panthers go west tonight for another district matchup. The girls face a Creede team that has struggle to stay above .500 while the boys in Creede have been absolutely red hot and are ranked number two in the RPI rankings for 1A. Panthers, Miners in Creede tonight.