Panther hoopsters perform well in Red Lodge
The Park City Panthers began their basketball season on the right foot, putting up two solid performances at the Woodden Memorial Tournament in Red Lodge last weekend.
On Friday, Park City played a strong Class B Joliet team – the defending 4B district champs.
The Panthers came out hot, almost doubling the J-Hawks’ performance to finish the first quarter up 13-7. In the second quarter, though, Joliet went on a 17-4 run to gain the lead and bring the halftime score to 24-17.
After half, the game was tight, with Park City scoring 12 and Joliet scoring 11. Going into the last quarter, the Panthers were down six points. During the final minutes of the game, Park City began to close the gap. The comeback was cut short, though, and Joliet came out on top 55-52.
During the first game, senior Talon Johnstone led the team with 19 points. Junior Connor McNeil added 12 points, and senior Rylan Gauthier put up nine. Also contributing were sophomore Austin Dennis and junior Tristen Johnstone, with six and five points, respectively.
Coach Ben Southworth felt his team fought throughout the entire game, and said that while the team’s inexperience became evident at the end, the Panthers are looking forward to the challenge of improving.
On Saturday, Park City faced another Class B team in the Red Lodge Rams.
The Panthers jumped out to an early lead and never took the foot off the gas. By halftime, Park City had a healthy 36-14 lead. The second half was closer, but the damage had already been done – the Panthers came out on top 55-30.
Gauthier put up a team-high 18 points against the Rams, followed by Talon Johnstone with 11 and McNeil with eight. Junior Austin Popp had six points, and Tristen Johnstone and Dennis each had four points.
“We handled adversity and when Red Lodge went on their runs, we battled back and our young guys stepped up and handled the pressure of the big stage,” Southworth explained.
Despite the youth on the team, Southworth feels his players are gaining experience at a rapid rate.
This rapid maturing will be tested this week as the Panthers open conference play. On Friday, Park City will play Harlowton in the season’s home opener, a team Southworth describes as “tall and talented.” The Panthers will travel to Roberts on Saturday to face the Rockets.
The Huskies added another win to their nonconference record last Saturday.
At the Tip Off Tournament in West Yellowstone, Absarokee took on the host team. The game began slow, with a 14-8 halftime score in the Huskies’ favor.
Both teams made adjustments at half, and the last two quarters of the game produced more offense. Absarokee outscored West Yellowstone 33-29 in the second half to win 47-37.
Two Huskies led the team’s offensive effort with 11 points each – senior Roman Zugaza and sophomore Zacc Degele. Following closely were seniors Joaquin Pilcher and Cole Brown, with 10 and six points, respectively.
Pilcher was the team’s leading rebounder with 11 – two offensive and nine defensive. He also tied for the most steals with three.
Degele also had three steals, and he racked up six assists and five rebounds. He made two three-point shots, the most on the team.
In addition to his 11 points, Zugaza had two steals and six rebounds, five of which came as offensive rebounds.
Brown was 100 percent from the free throw line, going four for four.
As a team, Absarokee had 33 rebounds and 15 steals.
The Huskies struggled to shoot from the field, making only about 30 percent of the game’s total shots. The second half was much better than the first, though – Absarokee improved from 16 percent to 48 percent. About half of the Huskies’ free throws were successful.
Coach Gregg Feddes is proud of how his team played on Saturday, saying that while the Huskies struggled to make shots, they made up for it with a “great defensive effort.” He is also glad that Absarokee’s offense was balanced, with three players scoring at least 10 points.
The Huskies open conference play this week with a home game against Bridger on Thursday and an away game against Broadview-Lavina on Saturday.
Feddes feels both games will be good tests for Absarokee. Bridger is a big team, so he said rebounding may be a determining factor. Broadview-Lavina seems to have very strong guards, meaning the Huskies will have to focus on protecting the basket.
“We are looking to build on last weekend with our focus being on finishing around the baskets and trying to do a better job boxing out and rebounding,” Feddes explained.
Last week, the Renegades met mixed results at the Showcase Tournament in Lewistown.
RPR fell to Denton-Geyser-Stanford (DGS) last Thursday. Despite being down one point at halftime, the Renegades let the second half slip, falling with a 59-40 final. In the win, DGS made 12 three-point shots.
Coach Jerry Thompson gave DGS credit for shooting well and playing good defense, but he also said the Renegades were not at the top of their game Thursday.
On Friday, RPR bounced back from Thursday’s loss with a win over Tri-City (Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap).
The Renegades came out strong, putting up 20 points in the first quarter. By halftime, RPR was up 34-19. Renegade dominance continued through the second half, and RPR won the game by 29 points with a 68-39 final.
Senior Trevor Herzog led the team with 24 points, followed by senior Dylan Blodgett with 14 and junior Tristan Gieser with 12. Sophomore Ty Herzog contributed seven points, senior John Schladweiler put up six, and senior Derek Peterson had five points.
Thompson felt his team played with more intensity against Tri-City, saying the Renegades’ defensive pressure was better and the team moved the ball well on offense. In Friday’s game, RPR shot over 50 percent from the field.
This Friday, the Renegades will face Plenty Coups in Reed Point for the season’s first home game, which is also the first conference game. Thompson explained that the Warriors are a favorite to win the conference, so Friday’s game will be a battle.
On Saturday, RPR travels to Harlowton. Despite some early season struggles, Thompson says the Engineers have some good players who play well at home.
With a tough week ahead, Thompson says the Renegades “will have to be ready to play both nights.”
The Cougars had another tough weekend, dropping both games at the Manhattan Tournament.
Columbus faced Deer Lodge on Friday. The first half was close and going into halftime the Cougars were up one point, 17-16. After half, though, the Wardens owned the game, outscoring Columbus 43-21. Deer Lodge won the game 59-38.
Senior Brandon Horton led the Cougar offensive effort with 10 points, followed by fellow senior Kenneth Smith with nine points. Sophomores Ricky Preece and Trey Stampfel put up seven and five points, respectively.
Looking to rebound from the loss, the Cougars faced the Manhattan Tigers on Saturday. Columbus came out slow, and by halftime were down 35-16. Manhattan held the momentum through the second half to win 61-27.
Once again, Horton put up 10 points to lead the team. Stampfel added seven, Smith had five, and Preece contributed four points.
The Cougars will kick off conference play this week at Shepherd on Saturday. Next Tuesday, Columbus will travel to Joliet for the team’s last game before winter break.