Lady Panthers one game short of state tourney
RANGELY — Coach Jimmie Mergleman was hoping her Lady Panthers would get another crack at Paonia, which beat Rangely in the district tournament.
Thanks to a two-point win in the first game of regionals last weekend, the Lady Panthers earned the rematch against Paonia they wanted.
But the outcome was the same.
For the third time this season, the Lady Panthers fell to top-seeded Paonia, this time in the final game of the 2A regional tournament last Saturday at Grand Junction. Rangely finished the season with a 14-8 record.
“We started off slow, and we gave up some easy baskets,” Mergleman said of the Lady Panthers’ 41-28 season-ending loss. “I think the closest we ever got was five, a couple of times, but we could never get closer than that.”
It wasn’t that the Lady Panthers played poorly against Paonia. In fact, just the opposite.
“I thought we played well,” Mergleman said. “I knew if we played really well, we could beat them, but we would have to play fundamentally well, with not a lot of room for error. It was probably one of the best games we’ve played all year, actually. But we just have to get better at certain things.”
Rangely stuck to its usual game plan against Paonia.
“We didn’t change up much,” Mergleman said. “We pretty much stayed with our game plan. But in the third quarter, we kind of quit rebounding, and that cost us. Simple things like that, you can’t quit doing, or you’ll be in trouble.”
Rangely ran into trouble in its first game at regionals last Friday, but managed to hang on to beat Fountain Valley 47-45.
“We gave up an 11-point lead and let them come back,” Mergleman said. “It should have never got that close. We never trailed, but it was tied a couple of times.”
Still, Mergleman was confident her team would prevail.
“I never really got nervous,” she said. “I knew we would be able to pull it out.”
Rangely, which finished fourth in the Western Slope League, was the No. 3 seed at regionals.
Last Saturday’s loss to Paonia was the final game for seniors Hillary Hayes, Megan Piering and Heather Wanstedt.
“We will lose those three seniors, but there were good things I saw out of our younger kids, which is exciting to look forward to next year,” Mergleman said.
Victoria Phelan led Rangely in scoring in both games, with 11 and 10 points. Audrey Hogan and Marie Morton each added 10 points against Fountain Valley.
Both the Rangely boys’ and girls’ teams will be recognized at the annual basketball banquet at 6 p.m. April 2.