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Panthers start strong, finish with narrow win

By Sue Sitter - | Feb 13, 2021

Sue Sitter/PCT Panthers guard Trey Welstad dribbles the ball toward the goal against Drake-Anamoose at Rugby High’s Charlie Hanneman Gym Feb. 5.

A strong start to a Panthers basketball game against Drake-Anamoose Feb. 5 in Charlie Hanneman Gym gave Rugby a 20-point lead before a late Raiders rally nearly turned the tables, giving Rugby a narrow 61-57 win.

The Panthers began the game with their work cut out for them. Senior forward Cole Slaubaugh had just returned to the court from time away with an injury. Forward Brody Schneibel remained on the bench with an injury and Isaiah Bundy-Smith, another forward, sat the game out as he recovered from an illness.

The Raiders brought a 12 and 3 record and determination to Rugby. They also brought Peyton Martin, a guard on the verge of scoring his 1,000th basket, which he did that night.

The Panthers played the first quarter of the game with Raiders on their tails. Buckets by guards Trey Welstad and Warren Walker were matched by Raiders forward Matthew Jund and center Josh Marquardt. Hunter Fletschock, a Raiders forward added three inside shots to the Drake-Anamoose offensive drive. Jund and Fletschock each sank three pointers. Fletschock drew a foul on one of his buckets, scoring two more in free throws.

Walker kept the Panthers on an even keel, sinking two free throws on a drawn foul in addition to two three pointers. Welstad and Slaubaugh moved inside the paint for a total of ten points.

The first quarter ended with a 20 point tie.

The Panthers charged ahead in the second quarter, with three-pointers from Welstad and buckets from Walker, Slaubaugh and forward Erik Foster.

The Raiders responded with six points from Jund and two from Fletschock. The half ended with a 36-30 Panthers lead.

The Panthers built on their lead in the third quarter with more buckets and fouls drawn by Walker, who scored two inside the paint, one three-pointer and three of five free-throw attempts made. Foster sank another two point shot.

Meanwhile, the Raiders found themselves limited to seven points for the quarter, with shots made by Jund and Martin. Fletschock made one of two bonus shot attempts.

The Panthers stayed focused in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, extending their lead to 20 points at first with help from Slaubaugh and Walker. Walker saw more fouls and trips to the free throw line, again sinking three of five shot attempts.

The Raiders seized on scoring opportunities as the minutes ticked away. Martin sank his first three-pointer of the game. Forward Dallas Brandt sank one of his own. Fletschock and Marquardt drove inside the lane to sink two-pointers. The Raiders scored 13 points in the quarter, closing in on the Panthers, seeming poised to overtake Rugby before the final buzzer.

Rugby regrouped and sharpened their defenses, ending the game with a four-point win.

Had the Panthers grown complacent with their big lead in the second half?

Panthers Coach Mike Santjer said he thought nerves were to blame.

“We almost tried to give the game away,” Santjer said.

“We got a little too nervous and didn’t know the situation and tried to give the game away. We were worried about other things and not focused on the situation at hand,” Santjer added.

“We got up and were a little surprised, but we didn’t take care of the ball,” he added. “When you’re up by 20 with five minutes left in the fourth quarter, and you’re still chucking three pointers off one pass and running three to four seconds off the shot clock, those aren’t good decisions by our team. We need to sit back, run the clock a little bit, work the ball around and get the shot that we want, not just the first shot that arises.”

Santjer added, “We didn’t play very basketball smart during the fourth quarter. We did a lot of good things early, but we didn’t play very basketball smart later.”

“I hope at the end we learned a little bit of a lesson: Let’s be more patient when we have the lead; let the other team come at us and hopefully, these games (where we lead by 20 points) won’t end up with us leading by four,” Santjer said.

Scoring for Rugby were: Warren Walker, 32 points; Trey Welstad, 13 points; Cole Slaubaugh, 10 points; Erik Foster, 6 points

Scoring for Drake-Anamoose were: Peyton Martin, 20 points; Hunter Fletschock, 15 points; Josh Marquardt, 12 points; Matthew Jund, 7 points; Dallas Brandt, 3 points.

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