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Panthers carve out 68-62 win against Mavericks

By Sue Sitter - | Jan 2, 2021

Submitted Photo Isaiah Bundy Smith of the Rugby Panthers looks for an escape route through a host of MLS Mavericks. Photo from LaVonne Erickson, Renville County Farmer.

The Rugby Panthers traveled to Mohall Dec. 22 for the second half of a basketball doubleheader featuring boys’ and girls’ games against the Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood Mavericks.

The Mavericks’ boys’ squad greeted the Panthers with aggressive play that included a full-court press.

The game that unfolded had fans on both sides biting their nails until the final buzzer, when the Panthers added a 68-62 win to their record.

The Mavericks struck the first blow of the evening with a rebound shot by forward Ryan Feland. The Panthers countered with shots made by starters Trey Welstad and Warren Walker, both guards, who each landed a three-pointer and rebound shots for two points. Forwards Cole Slaubaugh and Isaiah Bundy-Smith sank buckets, with Bundy-Smith making good on free throws.

Mavericks guard Lucas Undlin sank two free throws on a drawn foul and made three shots inside the paint. Guards Gannon Hall and James Santos sank three inside shots between them. The first quarter ended in a 21-21 tie.

The second quarter saw both teams trading leads at first. Fouls racked up on both sides, with the Panthers getting closer to trouble. However, Rugby continued its offensive push, sending three-point shots over the crowded lane. The three-point shots by Welstad, Walker and fellow guard Tim Mueller helped to move the Panthers ahead, while Slaubaugh and Bundy-Smith managed to penetrate the inside for rebounds and a layup. The first half ended with a slightly uneasy 38-30 Panthers lead.

The Mavericks turned up the heat in the third quarter, but so did the Panthers. Bundy-Smith continued to move the ball inside. Forwards Erik Foster and Brody Schneibel did as well. Foster and Walker each sank three-pointers. Although the Mavericks brought out a full-court press, the Panthers extended their lead by two with the quarter ending 52-42 in Rugby’s favor.

As the Panthers’ points mounted, so did their foul total. Mueller fouled out in the fourth quarter. Feland followed on the Mavericks’ side as their fouls increased as well.

The Mavericks unleashed their most aggressive offense of the game to catch up, putting 20 points on the board in the fourth quarter to Rugby’s 16. Still, Slaubaugh capitalized on rebounds, dunking one shot with finesse. Bundy-Smith and Mueller each sank three-pointers. Both Bundy-Smith and Walker drew fouls and landed free-throws.

Undlin and guard Joseph Savelkoul racked up free throws and sank four buckets between them. Savelkoul contributed to the juggernaut with a three-pointer, but the clock ran out with the Panthers holding onto their six-point lead.

“The game was a good win for us,” Panthers coach Mike Santjer said after the game. “We didn’t handle their press very well but it was the first time we had seen a full-court press this season so it was good to see the guys adapt on the fly. I thought our energy was the best we had played with so far this year.

“Isaiah and Cole did a great job of scoring and rebounding in the paint,” Santjer added. “Hopefully we can take what we learned from the game and keep improving.”

The Panthers would travel to Beulah Dec. 28 to take on the Miners for a non-region game.

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