Panthers win WREA Cowboy Shootout tournament

The Rangely Panther boys basketball team started slow but finished as champions in the 2013 WREA Cowboy Shootout. The championship team consisted in back Daniel Connor (manager), Chris Hejl (asst. coach), Troy Allred, Layne Mecham, Kelton Elam, Cameron Enterline, Fredy Ruiz, Connor Phelan, Eric Hejl (head coach) and Cody Brunton (asst. coach). In front, Kobe Broome (manager), Andrew Morton, Mitchell Webber and Kaulan Brady.

The Rangely Panther boys basketball team started slow but finished as champions in the 2013 WREA Cowboy Shootout. The championship team consisted in back Daniel Connor (manager), Chris Hejl (asst. coach), Troy Allred, Layne Mecham, Kelton Elam, Cameron Enterline, Fredy Ruiz, Connor Phelan, Eric Hejl (head coach) and Cody Brunton (asst. coach). In front, Kobe Broome (manager), Andrew Morton, Mitchell Webber and Kaulan Brady.
The Rangely Panther boys basketball team started slow but finished as champions in the 2013 WREA Cowboy Shootout. The championship team consisted in back Daniel Connor (manager), Chris Hejl (asst. coach), Troy Allred, Layne Mecham, Kelton Elam, Cameron Enterline, Fredy Ruiz, Connor Phelan, Eric Hejl (head coach) and Cody Brunton (asst. coach). In front, Kobe Broome (manager), Andrew Morton, Mitchell Webber and Kaulan Brady.
RANGELY I Some have said, “It’s not how you start, but how you finish.” The Rangely boys’ basketball team started slowly in the first round of the 2013 White River Electric Association Cowboy Shootout but came together as a team to beat the host in the championship game.
The Panthers defeated Moffat County’s JV team 44-36 in the first round, then beat Little Snake River, 59-55, in the semifinals to advance to the championship game against the Meeker Cowboys, where they won, 41-39, after making a shot with 2.3 seconds left in the game.
“The first game was definitely us working some of the off-season rust off, especially in the first half, where we almost had as many turnovers as points,” head coach Eric Hejl said of his team’s first game and win of the season. “Thankfully, we were able to buckle down on defense and hit some shots when we needed them so we could get the win.”
Coach Hejl said junior Mitchell Webber “had a great all-around game, filling the the stat sheet with eight points, eight rebounds, five blocks, two steals and one assist.”
Seniors Cameron Enterline and Connor Phelan each scored 12, Colt Allred and Andrew Morton each had four, Kaulan Brady and Kelton Elam each score a basket.
Coach Hejl knew his team had to play better in the semifinals against Little Snake River, if they wanted to win.
“We talk in practice every single day about doing the little things that are often necessary to win against quality opponents, and this game may have been the best we’ve ever had when it came to doing those things right,” Hejl said. “We made 83 percent of free throws (24 of 27) and only turned the ball over six times, adding 10 assists.
“We also won the rebounding battle, so when you combine those things, you are always going to be in the game down the stretch,” he said.
The Panthers led the Rattlers by two after the first quarter, but they trailed by four at halftime. Rangely outscored the Rattlers 18-11 in the third period to take a three-point lead into the final period.
“Our seniors, Connor, Cameron and Andrew stepped up big and kept the ship steady all night, including Andrew’s clutch baseline jumper in the last minute, and Colt came up big with two late-game steals and some clutch free throws as well,” he said. “This was absolutely a team win, and I think the way we were able to win, got us even more mentally prepared for the game on Saturday against the host team.”
The championship game was a low-scoring, defensive battle, especially in the first half, where the Panthers led 10-6 after the first quarter and Meeker trailed 17-14 at halftime.
“On Saturday, we had a very specific game plan and, early on, the plan was working just as we had hoped,” Hejl said. “We want to be a team that no matter what is happening on the offensive end, we can always rely on our defense to get us through and keep things close.
The Panthers scored 15 points in the third quarter and took a four-point lead into the final eight minutes.
“After about two quarters of stagnant offense, our defense was starting to wear down,” Hejl said. “Thankfully, sophomore Kaulan Brady answered the call and hit three huge three-pointers, two at the end of the third quarter and one to start the fourth.
“This gave us the much-needed boost of energy we had to have to finish the game on top,” he said. “Andrew also came up big with the go-ahead shot with 2.3 seconds left.”
Enterline, far right and Meeker’s Raul Lopez (far left) and Jeremy Musgrave, along with Ryan Jeep (named MVP) of Soroco, Tanner Jensen of Little Snake River and Bear Carlson (not pictured) were named to the All-Tournament team.
Enterline, far right and Meeker’s Raul Lopez (far left) and Jeremy Musgrave, along with Ryan Jeep (named MVP) of Soroco, Tanner Jensen of Little Snake River and Bear Carlson (not pictured) were named to the All-Tournament team.
Enterline led the Panthers with 37 points in the tournament, won the slam dunk contest and was named to the 2013 WREA Cowboy Shootout All-Tournament Team.
“I’m just so proud of the effort, teamwork and heart these guys showed all weekend long,” Coach Hejl said. “They finally proved to themselves that if they are truly a team and play not just along with each other but for each other, the sky is the limit on how good they can be.”
The Panthers will play Little Snake River again tonight in Baggs, Wyo.
“We still have a long, long way to go in the season and we still need to improve with each practice and each game, but the significance of getting wins in these three games can’t be overlooked,” Coach Hejl said. “Now it’s on to the next one.”