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Panthers Fall to Miners

By Staff | Jan 1, 2016

Hunter Hager drives down the court Tuesday at the Hoopster Classic on the MSU campus. The Panthers lost, 54-43, to the Beulah Miners. (Photo by John Denega/MDN)

The Rugby Panthers got the ball on the tipoff Tuesday evening at the Hoopster Classic at the Minot State University Dome.

But they didn’t come away with a win against the Beulah. The Miners won the game, 54-43.

Miners senior guard John William Suter took the lead, intercepting a pass and taking it to the baseline for two. The Panthers followed up with a ranged two from junior forward Anders Johnson – who led the Panthers in scoring with 19 on the night.

Johnson later scored from outside, and senior forward Ryan Michels would add two more points on the board, but the Panthers would be 10 points behind to end the first quarter.

The Panthers chipped into the Miners’ lead in the second quarter, with senior forward Tyler Schmaltz (14 points on the evening) putting up six points from inside. Schmaltz started in the absence of junior forward Chris Griffin.

“Tyler’s been playing really well for us in practice,” said Panthers head coach Mike Santjer. “I believe he played 32 minutes for a kid who’s never started a game before. [He did a] really nice job and I hope this boosts his confidence a little bit.”

Johnson also helped chip into the lead with two 2’s and confident 3-for-4 shooting from the free throw line.

The Miners got into trouble with turnovers, including missed passes in the second quarter that the Panthers were able to capitalize on.

“I thought we kind of prohibited ourselves from building a little bit better lead because of turnovers, and that was something I was disappointed with,” Miners head coach Jeremy Brandt said. “I didn’t think we guarded [Rugby’s] ball screens action very well tonight. We had some confusion sometimes, we didn’t rotate like we needed to, so that’s something we need to take care of as well.”

Santjer said despite a better effort on defense, communication was one of the biggest troubles on the night for the Panthers.

“We had guys subbing in and out and we didn’t switch up who we were guarding,” Santjer said. “We gave up six or eight points to end the first half just because we didn’t talk about who we were guarding.”

The Panthers had two show up from outside the arc in the third quarter, with 3’s from Johnson and senior forward Hunter Hager. The Miners would respond with two 3’s of their own from sophomore guard Derek Ferebee and senior forward Casey Walcker – who led the Miners in scoring with 19 points on the night. Beulah would bring the lead back to 10 points to end the third.

“We played hard for 32 minutes, we didn’t necessarily execute as well as we wanted, could’ve or should’ve,” Santjer said. “Beulah’s a real good team. They work really hard and they’re well-coached, so you can’t give up 10 points to a team like them.”

The Panthers were held to just nine points scored in the fourth quarter, including sophomore guard Landen Foster’s three from outside.

“We know Rugby,” Brandt said. “They’re a good defensive team, and they always are, they’ve got good athletes.”

The Panthers have two games coming down the pipe, including a home matchup against the Des-Lacs Burlington Lakers (Thursday, Jan. 7) and an on-the-road game against the Harvey-Wells County Hornets (5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9).

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