Panthers hope to rebound for home game today

Rangely junior Cameron Enterline was the only Rio Blanco County basketball player to enter the WREA Cowboy Shootout Slam Dunk contest.

Rangely junior Cameron Enterline was the only Rio Blanco County basketball player to enter the WREA Cowboy Shootout Slam Dunk contest.
RANGELY I Although there were only six teams in the White River Electric Cowboy Shootout the competition was tough. The Rangely Panther boys’ basketball team were in the mix but couldn’t pull off a win during the three-day tournament. The Panthers will host their first home game tonight, hosting North Park at 5:30 p.m., and they will get another chance against Little Snake River, as the Rattlers will be in Rangely Friday. Admission to tonight and tomorrow’s games is only $1 per person.
The Panthers received a first round bye, as did Little Snake River but the two teams played last Thursday to gain valuable preseason court time.
The Rattlers rattled the Panthers with an aggressive defense, causing several turnovers, while limiting the Panthers’ scoring attempts.
“The first game against Little Snake River (Baggs. WY), we got a little rattled by their press,” head coach Eric Hejl said. “They used it after makes and misses for the entire game and it really caused us to make some poor decisions that led to way too many turnovers. Ultimately that is what cost us the game, we never really settled down.”
The Panthers lost the game 36-50. Junior Cameron Enterline led the Panthers with 17 points, Cory Evans scored eight, Connor Phelan six and Chas Byerly added five.
The Panthers would play Moffat County in the semifinal game last Friday and gave the 3A Bulldogs a good game but eventually lost 49-56.
“Against Moffat County we were able to find a little bit more rhythm on offense and were able to make some shots to keep it close,” Hejl said. “We ran a little half court trap that seemed to get us a lot of deflections but weren’t able to convert nearly enough of those into steals.”
Evans hit two-three pointers in the first quarter and the Panthers trail 14-18 at the end of the first quarter but were only able to score four in the second quarter to trail by 11 at halftime.
“The second half was by far our best basketball of the weekend as we were able to pull within one point with about two minutes to go thanks to some tough defense and timely shooting,” Hejl said. “Unfortunately they made a couple of tough shots down the stretch and we couldn’t quite seal the deal but overall this was the best game we played on the weekend. It was nice to see the guys show a little grit and heart against the eventual tournament champions.”
The Panthers outscored the Bulldogs in the second half 31-26 but it wasn’t enough. Evans and Phelan both scored 14 for the Panthers, Enterline finished with five, Byerly five and Colt Allred added four.
Saturday last, the Panthers played and lost 27-33 to Crested Butte and coach Hejl said, “The Crested Butte game didn’t really have a lot of good associated with it. After a tough couple of games on the previous night, we just didn’t show up ready to play and it showed on the court.”
No Panther finished in double figures, Phelan scored eight, Allred seven, Enterline five, Evans three and seniors Jake Massey and Gabe Garcia each added a basket.
Coach Hejl is excited for the team’s first home game and is hoping for a big crowd tonight against North Park and Friday against the Rattlers.
“Friday we get another shot at Little Snake River but this time we hope to harness the home court advantage and get a win,” Hejl said. “The games on Thursday and Friday will only be $1 per person for admission so we are hoping to have a loud and full gym for both games.”