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Panther boys win CNDC

By Staff | Dec 27, 2019

Rugby High School’s boys basketball team won their first three games of the 2019-20 season.

And all three of them were during the CNDC Boys Basketball Tournament last weekend in Rugby.

The Panthers won their second consecutive tournament in two years, defeating the New Rockford-Sheyenne Rockets 52-48.

“New Rockford-Sheyenne is a great basketball team. They’re super physical, their kids are strong, they made it really tough on us offensively to finish, make cuts, all those things. And we learned that we have to do things a little bit stronger against good teams like that,” said Panthers head coach Mike Santjer.

The Rockets got to a four-point lead before the Panthers scored their first bucket of the game. The Panthers would be behind the Rockets for the remainder of the first quarter, with the scoreboard 12-7 in the Rockets’ favor.

The second quarter saw the Panthers take the lead on a 12-0 run, which included a last second layup from guard Trace Goven.

Goven opened the third quarter in scoring, with seven points in less than a minute of play-three of them from the charity stripe.

The Rockets would get seven of their own soon after, with a three-pointer from Evan Ulrich and two buckets from Bo Belquist.

The Panthers would still have the lead, with the scoreboard 40-29 at the end of three.

The Rockets’ Hunter Thompson opened the fourth quarter. Devan Michels responded for the Panthers soon after. The Rockets would later outscore the Panthers 19-12, but the Panthers came away with the win.

The second night of the tournament saw the Panthers take on the Dunseith Dragons. The Panthers got to a 24-9 lead at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Dragons were able to outscore the Panthers 20-11 but the Panthers would go into the locker room at halftime with a 35-29 lead. The third and fourth quarters saw Rugby outscore Dunseith 25-17 and 17-12, respectively, for a 77-58 win.

“I think, early in the season we’ve still got lots of questions on defense. We let guys get to the middle of the paint and they were able to finish on us,” said Santjer of night two’s performance. “But then we had a terrible second quarter. Third and fourth quarter we really dug our heels in. We’re patient on the offensive side and knocked down open shots.”

The second night also saw the Rockets advance after a 61-57 overtime thriller against the St. John Woodchucks.

On the first day of the tournament, the Panthers worked up a 28-4 lead against the Harvey-Wells County Hornets after a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Michels. That lead would grow to 57-22 in the Panthers’ favor after a second buzzer-beating three-pointer-that time from Jaden Hamilton. The Panthers would then outscore the Hornets 19-6 in the third quarter and 19-8 in the fourth for a 95-36 win.

“We came out with a lot of pent up ‘I’m sick of practice’ energy and we needed to go out and actually get and see some different faces and play against a different team, said Santjer of the first game. “We came out and offensively we did a lot of things really well, we had a lot of energy. It propelled us to a pretty good offensive night.”

The Rockets, meanwhile, defeated the Towner-Granville-Upham Titans, 72-37.

Rugby won four consecutive CNDC titles from 2011 to 2014, and won the 2018 tournament as well.

The Panthers traveled to Minot Friday to take on the Beulah Miners at the Minot State University Dome.

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