Lady Panthers host Hayden Friday

RANGELY I On to the next round.
And on to a rematch against Hayden.
But this time it will be different — the game will be on the Lady Panthers’ home court.
“I’m excited we’re hosting districts,” Rangely coach Jimmie Mergelman said. “We always seem to play a little bit better when we’re at home. The girls seem more comfortable.”
They certainly seemed comfortable last Saturday, easily beating Vail Christian 67-34 in the first round of districts at the RHS gym.
Even though the Lady Panthers had an easy time of it Saturday, there was a lot riding on the game.
“We knew it was do or die,” Mergelman said. “It was a must-win game, or we’d be done. The season would be over. We prepared like it was a real important game.”
A win last weekend means Rangely’s season will continue for at least two more weeks.
“As long as you won (last weekend), you’re guaranteed two more weeks,” Mergelman said.
Even though it won’t be an all-or-nothing game, Rangely has another big one coming up Saturday. The Lady Panthers will host Hayden at 3 p.m. Friday in the next round of districts.
“They beat us by nine earlier (in the season),” Mergelman said. “But that was at their place.”
Rangely lost that game 56-47. That was back on Jan. 30. Things are different now.
“I think we’re playing a lot better than we were in January,” Mergelman said. “We’ve played better ball since we played them (Hayden) before.”
Audrey Hogan and Victoria Phelan led the way last Saturday, scoring 17 points apiece. Phelan also had a team-high 11 rebounds, while Marie Morton had eight. Brittany Babineaux added 15 points for the Lady Panthers and six rebounds, and Haeley Enterline also had six rebounds.
This weekend’s district games will determine seeding in the regional tournament as well as decide where teams will travel to play.
“It’s actually considered the first round of state, the first round of 32,” Mergelman said of this weekend’s games. “First and third (finishers) will go to (Grand) Junction. Second place goes to Durango and fourth place goes to Denver. Ideally, we want to be in the championship game. Obviously, because we don’t want to lose.”
Besides Hayden, the other teams playing this weekend in Rangely will be county rival Meeker and league-champion Paonia.
Rangely beat Meeker 56-40 but lost to Paonia 56-43.
“We got within three in the third quarter,” Mergelman said of the game against Paonia. “We’re the closest game they have played.”