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Panthers top Hornets at Hanneman Gym

By Sue Sitter - | Jan 16, 2021

Sue Sitter/PCT Panthers forward Isaiah Bundy-Smith goes for two points against the HWC Hornets in Rugby High’s Hanneman Gym.

Fresh from an out-of-town romp over the Des Lacs-Burlington Lakers, the Rugby Panthers topped the Harvey-Wells County Hornets 70-64 on the court in Rugby High’s Charlie Hanneman Gym Friday, Jan. 8.

The contest against the Lakers had ended with a 51-31 rout by the Panthers. However, the Panthers met a much tougher challenge in the Hornets.

HWC struck out with the first buckets of the game and the Panthers found themselves with an eight-point deficit at times in the first quarter. The quarter ended with a razor-thin 15-14 Rugby lead.

The Panthers regrouped in the second quarter, amping up their offense to put 21 more points on the board, with forward Isaiah Bundy-Smith and guard Warren Walker leading the way. The Hornets found themselves batted away from the basket by Panther defenders and only managed 12 points for the quarter.

After halftime, the Hornets charged back onto the court, this time keeping Panthers at bay. Forward/guard Erik Foster joined the Panther offensive, landing eight total game points in the half. Cole Slaubaugh found a clear path around HWC defenders to land buckets as well; his score total matched Fosters at eight.

But HWC matched the Panthers’ scores point for point in the third quarter. Each team saw 13 points before the final quarter began.

HWC turned up the pressure even more in the fourth quarter. Score leaders Tate Grossman and Tyson Tipton stuck near the bucket, making good on rebounds and contributing to a 25-point scoring drive.

The Panthers trailed in scoring stats for the quarter, scoring 21 points. Fortunately, their second-quarter aggression had carried them through the second half to secure their six-point win.

Both teams were evenly matched in free throw numbers, each with 75 percent made.

HWC’s shots made-attempted percentage trailed Rugby’s by one point, 47 percent for HWC and 48 percent for the Panthers. HWC’s three point shots made-attempted percentage doubled Rugby’s, with HWC making 31 percent of their shots and Rugby making 15 percent.

“Fortunately, we were just good enough tonight,” said Panthers Coach Mike Santjer. “Kudos to Harvey-Wells County,” he added. “They worked us all over the floor tonight. Our guys didn’t come with enough energy. I don’t know if that was because we played a tough one last night, senior night, or what played into that.”

Santjer referenced a ceremony to honor seniors and their families just before the game.

“We’ve got to fix that,” Santjer added. “We’ve got to find energy on our own and show up to compete with teams like that. Because they outworked us all over the floor tonight.”

“Last night went good,” Santjer noted, describing the game in Des Lacs. “We started out a little slow in the first half; second half, we brought some energy. We played really good. We defended really well and it was a great night.”

“But tonight, I don’t know if it was a hangover from a big win last night, but we’ve got to figure out how to come out each and every night with enough energy,” Santjer added.

The Panthers’ compact schedule for 2020-21 gave some intensity to the season, but Santjer said the number of games to play had been set before COVID was a factor. “This was our schedule to begin with. (COVID) didn’t affect us at all. This is how the schedule’s supposed to be and this is how it’s going to be. Next week, we have three games in six days and we have to find some energy to show up for each and every game,” Santjer added.

Scoring leaders for the Panthers were: Walker, 20; Bundy-Smith, 18; Foster, 8; Slaubaugh, 8; Tim Mueller (G), 7; Trey Welstad (G), 7; Brody Schneibel (F), 2.

Scoring leaders for the Hornets were: Grossman, 18; Tipton, 18; Alex Erickson (F) 9; Landen Monge (G), 8; Madden Thorson (G) 6; Isaac Friese (F), 3; Jaxon Fike (G), 2.

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