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Panthers blow by Sioux

By Staff | Jan 16, 2015

Tim Chapman/PCT RHS senior guard Eric Hooker drives against Westhope-Newburg in a 77-20 win for the Panthers on Tuesday at Charles Hanneman Gymnasium.

Brad Heidlebaugh scored a smooth 28 points in just three quarters of action to lead the Rugby High School boys basketball team to a 77-20 win over visiting Westhope-Newburg on Tuesday.

The win marked the start of District 11 play and the start of a three-week stretch without senior forward Zach Miller, who is recovering from an appendectomy.

No. 3 RHS improved to 6-1 overall ahead of Thursday’s top-5 matchup (after deadline) against visiting No. 4 North Star.

“We talked about it all week that we can’t just play parts of games and flip a switch,” RHS coach Mike Santjer said.

Heidlebaugh answered the call to jumpstart a strong overall performance against the Sioux. He scored 15 points in the first quarter and RHS led 22-10. Westhope scored just two points in the second quarter before being blanked in the third quarter.

“It’s all about our defense right now,” Heidlebaugh said. “Definitely, we realize now that when we play every quarter, we’re going to be a tough team. We just need that mentality that we’re going to play tough defense for 32 minutes and our offense will come to us.”

The defense will be all that more important without the lanky 6-foot-5 center Miller, who can record a double-double on any given night.

“We’ll probably play whoever we think is the best matchup for the night,” Santjer said. “Depends on matchups and who’s playing well at practice.”

Heidlebaugh said his role down low must increase without Miller, but he received strong help throughout the lineup against the Sioux (0-8 overall).

“(Brad’s) tough to stop,” Santjer said. “It doesn’t matter if you try guard him with a post because he’s too quick. If you try with a guard, he’s too strong.”

Senior guard Tanner Bernhardt, who didn’t start the game, scored 13 points. Santjer declined to comment on why Bernhardt was left out of the starting five. Junior Ryan Michels and sophomore Anders Johnson chipped in 8 apiece. Ten of the team’s 11 players to see the court scored.

“I was pretty happy,” Johnson said. “We played pretty good defense, and without Zach our bench players are gonna have to step up.”

The Panthers also played Friday in a rescheduled road game against Des Lacs-Burlington. The team is on the road against Sawyer on Monday.

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