First time in over 20 years
The Rugby Lady Panthers Basketball Team dug deep and most likely surprised themselves by stealing the District 11 Championship from Velva who was rated number 1. The Lady Panthers girls team to win a district championship title in over twenty years, They may even be the only girls basketball team with the distinction of winning a district championship since Rugby became a Class B school.
“The girls looked inside themselves and found what they needed to get the job done,” said Rugby Coach Jen Brossart, who has said all year that this team is a tournament team.
Brossart doesn’t take any credit for the win. The only thing she told them is to “keep focused on the end goal.” Apparently staying focused did the trick.
“It was a total team effort,” added Brossart.
In their first game, the Lady Panthers challenged the Lady Raiders of Drake-Anamoose. The Lady Panthers led off the first quarter 19-9.
“Drake-Anamoose whittled away towards the lead in the second quarter, got some rebounds and made some baskets,” said Brossart.
At half-time Rugby was still in the lead 31-22. The Lady Raiders rallied in the fourth quarter again making 11 points to the Lady Panthers 19. However, the distance Rugby had put on in the first half plus the kick they gave themselves in the fourth quarter brought them through to the victory score 63-41.
Leigha Schmaltz led the scoring with 19 points followed by Allison Volk with 12, Aubrey Hovland and Taylor Wangerin each contributed 8 points, Darby Deckert added 6 points and Jacie Lovcik 2.
On Feb. 25, Rugby played Towner-Granville-Upham and in a tight game beat TGU 49-44. This was a total team effort.
Rugby and TGU were tied at 8 points at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Lady Panthers had come to play, and play they did. Rugby’s Wangerin was the high scorer for this game with 17 points and Schmaltz came through with 13 points. Hovland contributed 7 points, Deckert added 4, Volk and Abbey Paul each 3, and Shea Heidlebaugh 2.
“Our guards fed the ball to Taylor and Leigha,” said Brossart.
Each player on the team focused on their jobs and got the job done in the end. The Rugby coach had a few tense moments in the fourth quarter as the Titans fought back.
“We just about gave it up,” said Brossart. ” But then realized with a couple of minutes left what we came to do.”
After two wins, the Lady Panthers were fired up to do their best to defeat Velva on Monday night.
On this night, it was Hovland who led the scoring with 19 points followed by Wangerin with 10.
“Aubrey and Taylor both had a good game against Velva,” said Brossart adding that again it was a total team effort.
Both teams were tied at 12 at the end of the first quarter. The Lady Panthers found what they needed and pulled ahead at half-time 26-21.
In the third quarter, the two teams were matching defenses with Rugby managing 6 points and holding Velva to just 2 points.
“If you can hold Velva to a 2 point quarter, you are doing good,” said Brossart.
In the fourth quarter, Rugby stayed ahead of the game with 16 points to Velva’s 13. As Velva ran out of steam, Rugby won a spot at the Regionals for the first time in many years with a score of 48-36.
“The number of fans makes a huge difference,” said Brossart. “The fans were great.”
Aubrey Hovland and Abbey Paul were named to the All-Distirct Team from Rugby.
On Monday, March 5 the black and orange Rugby Panthers will compete with the gold Glenburn Panthers.
Good luck, Rugby! Keep your focus on the goal.
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