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Fans send off statebound Panther girls

By Staff | Mar 1, 2019

Panther fans make a banner that a bus carrying the Rugby Panther girls basketball team would drive through.

A supportive community of Panther basketball fans sent the Lady Panthers off to state early this week with a pep rally and first responder escort for the first part of their route to Grand Forks.

Fans both young and old filed into the gym to cheer on their team Tuesday evening. RHS cheerleaders kicked off the rally with a dance routine and formed pyramids, holding signs reading, “Let’s go Panthers.”

Next, the gym went dark, and a spotlight shone on each team member as they were introduced to the cheering crowd. Senior team members and coaching staff took turns speaking to the audience.

Coach Jen Brossart thanked the players, Panther fans, school community and families, including her own, for their support during the season. “Thank you for an amazing season,” she said, “and we will go into the playoffs to best represent Region Six.”

The next day, bright sunshine made powdery snow blowing from drifts sparkle in the air, adding to the sparkle from pom poms waved by fans standing along 3rd Avenue Southeast toward US Highway 2. A few well-wishers stood in the street, unfurling a homemade banner that read, “Panther Pride” and “Good Luck at State.” They straightened their banner so it spread across the width of the street. Another group, office workers from the Center Mutual Insurance Building, held signs next to a snow pile near the sidewalk. The message, “Defend to the End” was spray painted in black letters in the snow along with a spray painted picture of a basketball.

As sirens from fire department vehicles blared, signaling the Panther bus’ approach, more fans emerged from their cars and trucks in the Shopko parking lot to cheer. The fans waved in the bitter cold as the escorts pulled off the street, and the bus broke through the banner on its way to what fans called “The Betty” Betty Englestad Arena.

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