Panthers now 7-0
Smart defense can’t be preached enough by coach Mike Santjer as his No. 3 Rugby Panthers break for the holidays and gear up for their toughest two matchups yet.
The RHS boys are 7-0 and beating most teams handily thanks to the steady scoring of juniors Brad Heidlebaugh and Tanner Bernhardt, a composed supporting cast and a strong team defense.
“We’ve played some pretty athletic kids so far and we’re gonna see some more,” Santjer said. “We rotate pretty well as a team and we always have backside help, usually. They understand the concept we’ve been doing. We’ve held some good teams to low scoring nights.”
The Panthers are beating teams by an average of 32 points and only Bishop Ryan has played them within single digits. RHS is scoring 73 points per game, a number unlikely to intimidate the next two opponents: No. 6 Des Lacs-Burlington (Jan. 3) and No. 4 Four Winds-Minnewaukan (Jan. 6).
The Lakers (5-1) dealt the Indians (7-1) their only loss of the year a week ago in a 57-56 battle in Minot. Both teams have posted 90 points or more on two occasions.
“They’re really teams that can put up some points if you’re not hustling back,” Santjer said. “We just gotta limit the amount of good shots and good looks at baskets they get and make sure that we rebound. They’re too good of teams to give up offensive rebounds, so we need to make sure they only get up one shot.”
DL-B is led by seniors Tanner Holte and Chris Duke, two able scorers that make their team the No. 1 contender to challenge the reigning Region 6 champion Panthers. FW-M is a team that likes to go deep in its bench, but has a sure go-to player in junior Trayvon McKay.
“I think the biggest thing we need to work on is developing some depth in our bench,” Santjer said. “Right now, we’re missing Nolan Hovland because of his knee injury. Hunter Hager and Eric Hooker have been doing well. We just need to get them familiar with offense and playing varsity instead of JV.”