Palo Verde earns payback, slips past No. 1 Cheyenne

Palo Verde’s Moses Morgan still had a bad taste in his mouth as he stepped onto the basketball court Friday night.

Morgan had not forgotten his team’s Jan. 24 road loss to top-ranked Cheyenne, and he was determined to help the Panthers get even.

He achieved that objective Friday, posting 20 points and six rebounds to lift third-ranked Palo Verde to an 85-77 home win over the Desert Shields.

“I loved Moses’ effort,” said Panthers coach Jermone Riley, whose team trailed throughout most of the first half. “Big players make big-time shots, and that’s what he did.”

Cheyenne (17-3, 8-1 Northwest) threatened to break open the game on several occasions in the first half, but Morgan came up with a timely shot each time Palo Verde (16-3, 7-1) appeared buried.

“When they got up on us, I knew we just had to keep our composure,” said Morgan, whose team trailed 31-21 in the second quarter.

A 7-0 scoring run helped Palo Verde cut its deficit to four points late in the first half, and an off-balance, over-the-shoulder 3-pointer by D.J. Stennis at the buzzer cut the Desert Shields’ lead to 42-41 heading into halftime.

Morgan scored five points early in the second half, sparking an 11-0 spurt that gave the Panthers a 52-48 lead.

Though Cheyenne attempted to rally in the fourth quarter, Bryce Cotton answered by scoring seven points in just more than a minute to stretch Palo Verde’s lead to 82-70.

Stennis finished with 18 points and Cotton 15.

Chris McCall had 18 points to lead the Desert Shields.