Panthers finish fourth, play in Durango Friday

The Rangely Panther boys’ basketball team will play Sangre de Cristo on Friday in the first round of the state-qualifying regional tournament, held in Durango. Playing for the Panthers this season are, in front: Cameron Enterline, Andrew Morton, Connor Phelan and Mitchell Webber. Second row: Kaulan Brady, Kelton Elam, Troy Allred and manager Daniel Connor. Third row: Layne Mecham, Colt Allred, Freddie Ruiz and Chance Sheppard. Back row: coaches Eric Hejl, Cody Brunton and Chris Hejl.

The Rangely Panther boys’ basketball team will play Sangre de Cristo on Friday in the first round of the state-qualifying regional tournament, held in Durango. Playing for the Panthers this season are, in front: Cameron Enterline, Andrew Morton, Connor Phelan and Mitchell Webber. Second row: Kaulan Brady, Kelton Elam, Troy Allred and manager Daniel Connor. Third row: Layne Mecham, Colt Allred, Freddie Ruiz and Chance Sheppard. Back row: coaches Eric Hejl, Cody Brunton and Chris Hejl.

RANGELY I The Rangely boys’ basketball team finished fourth at the district tournament held in Oak Creek and now advance to the state-qualifying Region 3 tournament in Durango.
The Panthers lost to Paonia (57-46) and West Grand (54-52) in district play to determine they would travel to Durango and play Sangre De Cristo in the first round of the regional tournament, where only the champion advances to the 2014 Colorado State Basketball Championships.
In the district tournament, the No. 3 Panthers played the No. 2 Paonia Eagles, and, although Rangely led at halftime, they could not shut down the Eagles in the third quarter.
“We just had too many stretches where we didn’t play well as a team,” Rangely head coach Eric Hejl said.
Rangely led 11-6 at the end of the first period, then 21-19 at halftime, but the Eagles scored 19 in the third quarter, compared to the Panthers’ nine, then Paonia scored 19 again in the fourth to win the game.
Cameron Enterline led the Panthers with 17 points, including two three-pointers against Paonia, he pulled down 13 rebounds and blocked two shots. Mitchell Webber scored 12 points and finished with seven rebounds and three blocked shots. Connor Phelan scored nine for the Panthers, Colt Allred added six and Kaulan Brady made a basket.
“Connor was sick as a dog all weekend and was able to tough it out, but you could tell he was hurting,” Hejl said of one of his seniors.
The loss to Paonia would match the Panthers against the West Grand Mustangs in the consolation championship, but this time it would be the Panthers trying to catch up in the second half.
Rangely trailed the Mustangs 19-12 after the first quarter and 36-23 at halftime. The Panthers would pull within eight after scoring 15 points in the third quarter and they scored 14 in the fourth but it wouldn’t be enough.
“They kept fighting until the end,” Hejl said of his team’s play against the Mustangs. “For the most part, I was proud of the effort our kids gave.”
Enterline again led the Panthers with 15 points, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots.
“Cameron gave us good minutes all weekend on both ends of the court,” Hejl said of another of his seniors.
Phelan finished with 14 points, Brady had nine, Allred seven, Webber and Kelton Elam each added three and Andrew Morton made a free throw.
The Panthers currently have a record of 15-7 and will play Sangre de Cristo (14-8) in the first round of the Region 3 tournament, where Ignacio (21-0) will play Del Norte (8-14) in the other semifinal game. Only the regional champion will advance to the state tournament.
“We’ll get refocused this week and go in with a nothing-to-lose mentality that will hopefully keep our guys relaxed going in,” coach Hejl said.

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