Panther boys bat down Beulah
Fresh from a pre-Christmas win in Mohall, the Rugby Panthers brought their forward momentum to the Minot State University Dome last Friday, where they batted down Beulah’s Miners to stay undefeated.
Rugby High’s participation in the 2018 Hoopster Classic had been iffy just a day before the December 28 matchup, as blizzard warnings forced the Lady Panthers to postpone their Thursday game.
However, after the storm made little impact west of Rugby and the next day dawned clear, the boys kept to their scheduled 6 p.m. game.
The 5-0 Panthers took the court against the 3-3 Miners, defensive skills primed. Coach Mike Santjer and Panthers who’d played Beulah last year remembered falling to the Miners.
Devan Michels, Jaden Hamilton and Trace Goven put points on the board early, with each score answered by the Miners until the Panthers pulled ahead for a two shot lead at the end of the first quarter, 14-10.
The Miners kept the pressure on the Panthers in the second quarter, with Sean Gierke and Trey Brandt landing 3 pointers, while Panthers Devan Michels and Trace Goven scoring 5 two pointers in total, and Goven landing a free throw. With 2 minutes to go in the half, the Miners managed to tie the score 20-20, and moved ahead to lead 20-23 after a Gierke 3 pointer.
The Panthers charged back with five more points to retake the lead, ending the half with a 25-20 score.
After halftime, the Panthers widened their lead to ten points, with Goven, Michels and Kevin Vetsch each adding two 2 pointers and Vetsch scoring three points on free throws.
The Miners amped up their defense toward the 3rd quarter’s end, with Miner Chad Morsette Jr. landing a 3 pointer and blocking Panther shots. The 4th quarter saw 2 Panther timeouts as the Miners crept up the scoreboard, decreasing the Panther lead to only 6 points.
The Miners shifted into do-or-die mode as the final seconds ticked away, with two-point shots connecting for Gierke, Kaleb McGraw, Shay Yeager and Morsette Jr.
However, Goven racked up three more 2-point shots to add to his impressive game total, and a Michels 2 pointer and 2 Hamilton free throw points in the final 10 seconds of the game helped secure a 52-47 Panther victory.
After the game, coach Mike Santjer told the Panthers how important their win over Beulah was. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the Miners were in the top ten teams for the state this year,” he said to his team.
Santjer told the Tribune, “They (the Miners) are very well coached, and they’ve got some kids that are trying to figure some things out yet; they graduated a lot of kids last year, so they’ve got a lot of kids playing in spots they didn’t normally play, so, they’re just a good team, and they play physical defense.”
Santjer said defense was key for the Panthers in the game. “If you can defend people, it can carry you a long way.”
Top scorer Goven said he remembered playing Beulah last year.
“They were tough. They beat us last year,” he said.
Goven said there were differences in the way his team played against the Miners this year. “I think we pushed the ball and got to the lane more, and we were able to draw fouls, which got them in foul trouble, and when it mattered, we knocked down free throws,” he said.
Goven led the Panther score totals for the game with 22 points. Michels scored 12 points. Hamilton and Kevin Vetsch each scored 7 points. Mayson McCabe scored 4 points.
Gierke topped the point tally for the Beulah Miners with 15. Morsette Jr. and Jonah Larson each scored 10 points, while Brandt scored 9. McGraw came in with 2 points for the evening, and Shaye Yeager rounded out the Miner totals with 1 point.
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