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Ticket punched

By Staff | Mar 1, 2019

Lori Gronvold for the Tribune Rugby’s Kevin Vetsch (left, no. 11) goes up for a shot while guarded by Bottineau’s Bailey Burcham (right). Bottineau’s Ethan Hahn (no. 21) looks on.

The Rugby Panthers punched their ticket to the Region 6 Boys Basketball Tournament with a win against the Towner-Granville-Upham Titans.

All that was needed next was a win (or loss) to decide seeding.

And a win they got, a 78-57 one over the Bottineau Braves in the championship round of the District 11 Tournament Monday in Rugby.

The Panthers worked up a 24-18 lead by the end of the first quarter, with half of their points coming from outside the arc and nine of those outside points coming from Jaden Hamilton (28 points on the night).

The Braves outscored the Panthers 15-14 in the second quarter, with 12 of their points from outside.

The Panthers went on to outscore the Braves 40-24 in the second half.

“At times our defense was as good as I’ve ever seen it,” said Panthers head coach Mike Santjer. “We really got after it and got some layups in transition, which helps our offense turn. Then other times I thought we took a breath and went ‘Ahh, we’re ahead’ and we kind of relaxed and then they came raring back. Got to give Bottineau a lot of credit for never giving up and battling.”

With the win, the Panthers scored their third straight district title in the last three years. The last time the Panthers had a third straight district title was the 2014-15 season, which was capped by a region and state title.

In the win against the Titans, Cy Luna, Hunter Miller and Tanner Schock combined for five 3-pointers in the first quarter, which helped the Titans get an 18-17 lead over the Panthers by the end of the quarter.

The second quarter was a huge quarter for Trace Goven (19 points against TGU, 23 against Bottineau), who scored 13 of the Panthers’ 26 points on the quarter. The Panthers went on to outscore the Titans 33-20 in the second half.

Region 6 seeding

– Fourth seed Nedrose Cardinals will make their first trip to the Region tournament, which begins Monday at the Minot State University Dome. The Cardinals will open the tournament against the District 12 champion Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood Mavericks at 3 p.m.

– The Braves will play District 12 third-seed Bishop Ryan in the second game of the tournament, game time slated for 4:30 p.m.

– Game 3 will see the Panthers take on the District 12 fourth seed Des Lacs-Burlington Lakers, game time slated for 6:15 p.m.

“They have a couple good outside shooters who can really fill the bucket up,” said Santjer of the Lakers. “They have a big post presence inside. They’re gonna be a tough teamThey’re a well-coached team and they’ll be able to fill up the bucket with some shots, that’s for sure.”

– And the nightcap will see the District 12 runner-up Our Redeemer’s Christian School Knights take on the Titans, game time at 7:45 p.m.

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