Coming so close
The no. 4-ranked Rugby Panthers came that close.
A fourth quarter surge Tuesday night at Four Winds Community High School allowed the Panthers to cut the no. 3-ranked Four Winds-Minnewaukan Indians’ advantage to just four points by the end of the game–79-75.
Both teams had a victory in their respective districts just the night before. The Panthers were coming off a 50-47 District 11 win in Velva against the Aggies. Meanwhile, the Indians had devastated a District 7 rival in the Harvey-Wells County Hornets, 91-31, in Fessenden.
The Indians got on the board first after nearly a minute of play with a bucket from center Bronson Walter. The Panthers then responded in kind with a bucket from Trace Goven and a 1-for-2 trip to the foul line for Devan Michels. A pair of 3-pointers from Jaden Hamilton allowed the Panthers to have the lead.
Both teams then assaulted the boards, with the Indians coming out ahead by a razor thin 19-18 margin at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter saw Walter put the Indians on the board first again. The Panthers responded with six points in less than a minute of play. The Indians would respond to the Panthers’ surge with six points of their own in just over 39 seconds.
With 2:27 on the clock, Hamilton would tie the game up 31-31. The Indians would outscore the Panthers 11-4 after that for a 42-35 advantage going into halftime.
Missed buckets would hit both teams hard in the third quarter, as the gap would be 62-52 going into the fourth.
After a bucket from Doug Yankton to open the fourth quarter for a 64-52 advantage for the Indians, the Panthers went on a surge that started with a 7-2 run. Both Vetsch and Mayson McCabe would tie the game 66-66 and 68-68, respectively, at two different points of the game. The Indians would then outscore the Panthers 11-7 after that.
In the game against Velva, the Aggies worked up an 11-2 lead by the end of the first quarter. The Panthers would have a resurgence in the second, outscoring the Aggies 15-8. In the second half, the Panthers tipped the scales and worked up a 35-30 lead at the end of the third quarter. In the fourth, the Aggies outscored the Panthers 17-15, however the Panthers came out ahead.
Just days before, the Panthers overwhelmed the Drake-Anamoose Raiders 73-40 in Rugby. The Panthers cruised to a 24-8 lead by the end of the first quarter, and a 46-20 lead by halftime. A 66-28 third quarter in the Panthers’ favor set the stage for a running clock fourth in which the Raiders outscored the Panthers 12-7.
With the loss to the Indians and the wins against the Aggies and the Raiders, the Panthers’ record stands at 15-2 overall and 6-0 in district play.
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