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Panthers strike back in opener

By Staff | Dec 2, 2016

Panthers strike back in opener

By Bryce Berginski

Tribune Reporter

It took a bit for the Rugby Panthers to get going Monday evening.

A combination of nerves and missed layups allowed the Benson County Wildcats to get an early lead in the first game of the season.

But with junior Madison Uhlenkamp finding early success at the foul line and sophomore forward Karsyn Hager warming up from downtown, the Panthers were able to snatch the lead back and come away with a 53-48 win.

“Rugby’s a good basketball team,” said Wildcats head coach Eric Haagenson. “They had a lot of success last year. We have to learn to play with good teams like this.”

The Wildcats got an early start due to Emily Sears. After that, junior guard Dani Schwanke took over with two makes from outside. Junior forward Tristin Lunde would then get the Panthers’ first points on the board.

“I thought the last part of the first quarter (the Panthers) came out ready to play, and the second quarter they kind of took over,” said Panthers head coach Jen Brossart.

Hager struck first on the third of six shots on the night from outside to start the second quarter, and classmate Anni Stier would score off a Uhlenkamp steal to continue a 15-2 run.

“Karsyn’s got a great shot,” Brossart said. “If we give her the ball, she’s got the opportunity to put it up.”

The Wildcats were held to just six points on the quarter, four of them coming from Schwanke-who was 3 for 6 on three-pointers, 4 for 5 on fouls and 8-19 on field goals on the night.

“Schwanke’s a heck of a ball player,” Brossart said. “She created shots that not a lot of people can.”

The Wildcats had a brief resurgence in the third quarter, with Schwanke first getting a make after a miss from teammate Kaylee Lybeck. The Panthers were plagued by missed shot attempts, scoring only 10 points on the quarter.

But the Panthers would then go on their second highest-scoring quarter of the night in the fourth, with Hager shooting a pair of threes. Schwanke would fire back with two of her own.

The Panthers competed in the CNDC tournament, which started Thursday in Rugby and includes teams like the Towner-Granville-Upham Titans, Harvey-Wells County Hornets and the Drake-Anamoose Raiders. The Panthers will stay at home next week as they host the Bishop Ryan Lions on Dec. 9.

The Wildcats face regional opponents in Leeds with Langdon Area-Munich-Edmore on Dec. 13 and North Star on Dec. 16.

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