Boys’ Basketball Wins First Game
For both the Rugby Panthers and the Benson County Wildcats, last weekend’s home opener was the first game of the season for both squads.
And it felt like it.
“You could definitely tell it was the first game of the year. Lots of turnovers, quite a few plays we made mistakes on that we probably won’t, hopefully, later in the season. And I think, kind of, we got tired,” said Panthers head coach Mike Santjer.
The Panthers beat the Wildcats, 45-30, on their home court despite a low-scoring start.
Senior forward Ryan Michels – who was third in scoring with 8 points on the night – put up the first points of the game for the defending State Class B champs. The Wildcats then fired back with senior guard Lane Ritterman (15 points) scoring three from outside. The Wildcats ended the first quarter with a 9-8 lead, despite scores from Panther junior forwards Anders Johnson (14 points) and Chris Griffin (12 points).
But the lead didn’t hold for long. Senior forward Tyler Schmaltz took the game back with a layup in the second quarter, and Griffin and sophomore guard Landen Foster were able to sink in a couple shots from outside. Defensively the Panthers held the Wildcats to just two points that quarter, both of which came from a trip to the free throw line for senior guard Jaydin Risovi (4 points).
Both teams came alive in the third quarter, with Ritterman and Johnson taking the lead for their respective squads.
“He’s our senior, he’s our leader. As he goes, we’re gonna go,” Wildcats head coach Scott Lindgren said of Ritterman. “He works hard and he wants to win more than anybody I know, so he’s flying around out there trying to make any play for our team. We need the others to start feeding a little more off him and if we do we’ll be okay.”
“Anders got in some foul trouble in the first half, but second half he came out and played really well, got some buckets for us,” Santjer said of Johnson.
The Panthers defense held the Wildcats to a low-scoring fourth quarter, with only four points coming from Ritterman and freshman forward Keaton Nelsen.
“Overall I’m not too upset. It was our first game of the year with a lot of young kids, guys that don’t have a lot of experience playing a really good team,” Lindgren said. “I thought we played hard. We worked hard, it’s just they were a little better.”
The Wildcats traveled to Drake the next day, where they lost, 59-50, to the Raiders. They played Thursday against North Star in Leeds.
The Panthers played in the CNDC tournament, which wraps up tonight.
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