Panthers to be challenged by youth, competition
Last year, the Rugby Panthers’ boys basketball team had a young team that didn’t have a lot go its way.
Youth will be a factor again this year, as the Panthers will have a younger team with kids that did not have a lot of time playing varsity, according to Head Coach Mike Santjer.
The team lost scorers and athletes due to graduation last year, including Ryan Michels, Trevor Longie and Hunter Allickson.
The team will be looking to seniors Anders Johnson and Chris Griffin and junior Landen Foster, who’ve had substantial time at the varsity level. There have also been several battling for spots, including seniors Cade Heilman and Dylan Marco and junior Isaiah Johnson.
Santjer said defense will be crucial for the Panthers, particularly early in the season.
“There may be some trying times on the defensive side for us,” Santjer said.
The Panthers start their season on Monday in Leeds against the Benson County Wildcats. Santjer said in addition to getting over first game jitters, height will also be a factor with the Wildcats having several players taller than six feet.
Other games Santjer said may prove a challenge down the pipe include a rival game at Four Winds against the defending state champion Indians (Feb. 7); and region opponents Bishop Ryan, Des Lacs-Burlington, Our Redeemer’s Christian School and Lewis & Clark-Berthold.
With Velva and Sawyer combined together this year, a Drake-Anamoose Raiders team that despite losses is expected to do better later in the year, a Bottineau Braves team centered around two “good” guards and an athletic Towner-Granville-Upham Titans team, Santjer said District 11 opponents may prove to be competitive as well.
“You got to be ready to play all the district games,” Santjer said.
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