Panthers return to region championship
Thursday evening saw a battle between two top seeds on the floor of the Minot State University Dome.
The District 11 no. 1-seed Rugby Panthers defused the Lewis & Clark-Berthold Bombers and cruised through a third meeting with the Nedrose Cardinals to advance to the championship round of the Region 6 Boys Basketball Tournament.
“It’s exciting, it’s a culmination of all the effort that these guys put in in the offseason and at practice everyday, so I’m proud of them,” Panthers head coach Mike Santjer said of his team making it to the championship round.
The Panthers faced the District 12 no. 1-seed Our Redeemer’s Christian School Knights, who got past two District 11 teams, the Towner-Granville-Upham Titans and the Drake-Anamoose Raiders, to advance.
Rugby and Our Redeemer’s did not face each other in the regular season. The last time the Knights and the Panthers faced each other in the Region 6 tournament was in the semifinal round last year, and it resulted in a 59-58 loss for the Panthers.
Due to print deadlines, results from the Panthers/Knights matchup will be in next week’s edition.
Panthers defeat Cardinals in semis
The third time was not the charm for the Nedrose Cardinals.
After falling 83-46 in the regular season and 82-48 in the district tournament to the Panthers, low shooting percentages paved the way for the Cardinals knocked out of championship contention.
The Cardinals shot 27.1 percent from the field, 26.3 percent from outside the arc, and 25 percent from the free throw line. The Panthers, meanwhile, were 100 percent from the free throw line for the second night in a row, and shot 52.8 percent from the field and 35.3 percent from outside the arc. They would walk out of the MSU Dome with a 66-32 victory over the Cardinals.
The Panthers’ 1-3-1 defense early in the game forced turnovers and helped pave the way for a 24-7 lead at the end of one quarter.
“Once we got some layups in, the ball started falling from the outside and [it] kind of got us cranking a little bit,” said Santjer.
The Cardinals saw a brief resurgence in the second quarter, however the lead going into halftime would be 41-21 in the Panthers’ favor.
The third quarter saw the Panthers add 16 more points to their commanding lead while holding the Cardinals to just five on the quarter. In the ensuing quarter, the Panthers outscored the Cardinals 9-6.
Jaden Hamilton, Trace Goven and Warren Walker each broke double digits in scoring (19, 15 and 14 respectively), while no Cardinal broke double digits.
Panthers defuse Bombers
A huge second quarter proved critical in the Panthers winning game one of the tournament.
After a12-5 first quarter, two Panthers combined to score 16 of 27 total points in the second quarter. The Bombers were held to two three-pointers, one bucket and one trip to the foul line on the quarter.
“We kind of came out just a little bit flat in the first quarter,” said Santjer. “Second quarter last night I thought was great. We kind of cranked up our defensive pressure, got some turnovers and got out in transition.”
The momentum favored the Panthers, who outscored the Bombers 17-11 and 15-10 in the second half for a 71-36 win.
The Panthers shot 51.9 percent from the field, 38.9 percent from outside the arc, and 100 percent from the charity stripe. The Bombers shot 42.4 percent from the field, 57.1 percent from outside, and 80 percent from the free throw line.
The evening saw four Panthers break double-digit scores: Hamilton (18), Walker (12), Cole Slaubaugh (12) and Devan Michels (11). Only two Bombers broke double digits: Walker Wold (17) and Jacob Gunderson (11).
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