Panthers see narrow losses in season openers | News, Sports, Jobs

Panthers see narrow losses in season openers | News, Sports, Jobs

Sue Sitter/PCT Surrounded by St. John Woodchucks, Rugby Panthers center Garrett Sullivan jumps for a bucket December 19 at Rugby High School.

Region 4 teams dominated the day at a basketball jamboree held in lieu of the Central North Dakota Conference (CNDC) on Saturday, December 17 at Rugby High School.

Major Winter Storms postponed and then CNDC canceled before tournament organizers decided to invite all teams to a special jamboree on the final day of the tournament instead.

Five teams from Region 4 – St. John, Dunseith, Harvey and New Rockford-Sheyenne and North Prairie – played against three teams from Region 6 – Rugby, TGU and Glenburn.

All Region 4 teams have won matches against their Region 6 opponents. Harvey defeated Glenburn 95-41 while St. John surpassed TGU 65-43. Dunseith’s Dragons won their game against regional rivals New Rockford-Sheyenne.

Rugby fell to the North Prairie Cougars 54-60.

The Panthers held a narrow lead against North Prairie in the first quarter of their game before the Cougars went on attack and forced fouls from Rugby. The pattern would continue until rugby center Garrett Sullivan and forward Brody Schneibel were eventually fouled out of the game.

The Cougars would travel to the free-throw line four times in the second quarter and hit five of seven attempts. Buckets came from Cougars Nicholas Mears and Blake Mattson. Nate Tastad and Mitchell Leas also landed shots.

Rugby’s Bryceton Deplazes broke through Cougars defence, landing two buckets and then sinking a three. Schneibel, Erik Foster and Rylan Hildenbrand also managed to bring two points inside.

The 13 points the Panthers scored in the second quarter weren’t enough to hold Rugby’s lead. North Prairie scored 19. The half ended with North Prairie leading 28-24.

Rugby fought back in the third quarter when Hildenbrand pocketed a three and a one from inside the suit. Guard Jacob Ripplinger added a buzzing bucket to the Panthers’ 21-point total that put Rugby back at the top 45-41 before the start of the fourth quarter.

Both teams turned up. Rugby players started flipping the ball. Again, fouls ensued for the Panthers, resulting in 13 trips to the free throw line for the Cougars. Eight points resulted for the Cougars.

North Prairie recorded 19 points in the final minutes of the game. The Panthers had nine points.

Panthers fall

to the woodchucks 55-48

Rugby hosted St John’s at home on Monday 19 December.

The Panthers began their game against the ready Woodchucks. Ripplinger and guard Logan Harner pierced the color with two-point shots, their speed keeping them ahead of the St. John defense.

Foster pulled a foul and hit one of two free throws. Center Garrett Sullivan led the Panthers offense with seven points scored, one from a three-pointer and four from a foul on a bucket.

The Panthers led the Woodchucks 12-8 at the end of the first quarter.

The Woodchucks increased the pressure, forced turnovers, and held the Panthers to just eight points in the second quarter. Foster led in scoring, made two shots and pulled a foul, resulting in two free throws. The other two points came from Deplazes.

Meanwhile, St. John’s Brayton Baker moved effortlessly through the paint, landing four shots and a three-pointer from the outside. With landing buckets from Greyson Greybear and Ethan Decoteau and a three-pointer from Isaac Charbonneau, the Woodchucks brought 18 points to the board for the second quarter and led 26-20.

The Panthers’ defense stayed in hot pursuit of the Woodchucks, and this time out of dire trouble.

Both teams scored 13 points in the third quarter. Rugby upped their game in Q4 as Foster scored a three and scored two free throws.

Rugby head coach Mike Santjer sent on striker Dane Heidbreder, whose move into the color resulted in fouls. Heidbreder hit two of two free throws.

Harner, who also became a target with his quick movements, hit one of two free throws. Groundhogs surrounded Sullivan, cutting opportunities for shots but giving him a chance at free throws.

The Panthers’ defense remained tenacious to the end, limiting shooting opportunities to Baker and Charbonneau. Cashmyn Belgarde came on for the Woodchucks and pulled a foul on a bucket. Like his teammates, Belgarde hit 100% of his free throw attempts.

The game ended in a narrow 55-48 win for the Woodchucks.

After the game, Santjer said he expects Region 4 to be challenging all season. The region had led Four Winds-Minnewaukan to a Class B state championship in 2021-22.

“Absolutely,” he said. “They have a lot of good teams in Region 4, so they’re always battle-hardened in that region.”

Santjer described the preseason as one “learning process” for the panthers. “We knew the first few games weren’t going to be easy and that’s okay.” he said. “We prefer to play really good teams and have to do that.”

He added as the Panthers fell behind in both games, “We fought back. We just had a few turnovers too many on big spots when we needed a different bucket instead of a turnover.”

“But,” he added, “Tonight was better than the last game, so we’re making progress.”

Santjer said Region 6 and District 11 games would count the most for the Panthers in their season.

“We want to win every game and play as well as we can, but we’re more worried about the games we play at the end of the year,” he said. “Let’s play in the region, let’s play in the regional championship. Those are the games we really want to play.”

“So these are learning experiences,” he said of the games outside the region. “We still have a lot of people learning, so we’re hoping to get there.”

“Offensively we have to make sure we hit it inside and put down those outside shots when we get the opportunity.” he added. “Defense, I think we played pretty well. I agree with our defense.”

The Panthers would travel to Mohall to face the MLS Mavericks before taking on the Beulah Miners on December 27 in Minot.

The results of these games will appear in the Pierce County Tribune on December 31st.

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