Panther boys get past Braves
The Bottineau Braves had the lead.
But the Rugby Panthers were able to snatch it away and hold onto it in a District 11 matchup Tuesday evening in Rugby.
Both teams were scoreless for nearly two minutes before center Bailey Burcham got the Braves on the board first. Panther forward Jaden Hamilton had a rebuttal from beyond the arc.
The first quarter would continue to go up and down, ending with the Braves up 11-10 over the Panthers.
Kevin Vetsch opened the second quarter scoring for the Panthers. Then Braves guard Max Henry had a rebuttal plus more, hitting two corner three-pointers seconds apart.
The Panthers would keep grinding, eventually tying the game 25-25 on a 2-for-2 trip to the line for guard Trace Goven. Goven would then take the lead back, briefly, on a three-point play less than a minute later. The Braves then tied it up again on a late three-pointer from forward McKinley Agnes. A 1-for-2 trip to the charity stripe for Vetsch in the final seconds put the Panthers ahead, 29-28, going into halftime.
After a fourth three from Agnes, the Panthers turned on the jets and outscored the Braves 20-9 in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter saw the Panthers not just ahead, but also in the double bonus. Several Panthers were sent to the charity stripe more than once: guard Landen Foster went 5-for-6 on the quarter, Hamilton (who was lights out the whole game when it came to free throws) was 4-for-4, Goven was 3-for-3 on the quarter, forward Brock Haakenson was 3-for-4, and forward Seth Jaeger was 1-for-2. The Braves, meanwhile, were 2-for-4 as a whole on the quarter (with Burcham and forward Michael Sorenson making three-point plays).
Going into the second half, the Panthers had to make adjustments to their zone defense, which head coach Mike Santjer said helped.
“It’s something a lot of teams don’t see, and the guys have really bought into it,” Santjer said. “They like to be able to play some pressure defense knowing that their teammates have their back, and against the 1-3-1 there’s only a few things that you can run against [it]. Once you understand all the options we can kind of just settle into it and run it.”
In another District 11 matchup last week, the Panthers defeated the Nedrose Cardinals 83-35 at home.
The Panthers traveled to Towner on Friday to take on the Titans. The Panthers will be on the road again today, taking on the Lewis & Clark-Berthold Bombers at 6 p.m. at the Minot Municipal Auditorium. The Panthers will host Velva on Tuesday (Jan. 30), game time at 4:15 p.m.
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