Host Cowboys, Eagles this weekend
RANGELY I The Rangely Panthers boys’ basketball team won two of three games last week and will host the Meeker Cowboys and the Paonia Eagles this weekend in the final two games of the regular season.
Rangely beat the North Park Wildcats 54-44 in a make-up game in Walden last Thursday, then pounded the DeBeque Dragons 73-52, in front a hometown crowd, before losing to the Plateau Valley Cowboys 42-56.
“We came out focused in the first quarter and got up 10-2 but kind of relaxed and they were able to fight back and stay close,” head coach Eric Hejl said of the first quarter, which ended with the Panthers up by two against the Wildcats.
The Denny brothers, Kody and Kacey each hit two shots from behind the three-point arch and Connor Phelan added another three-pointer to put the Panthers up 31-27 at halftime.
“We shot the ball extremely well in the second quarter but unfortunately we had a few mental breakdowns defensively, which allowed them to hang around,” Hejl said. “Early in the second half, we were able to once again find our rhythm offensively and although we didn’t completely run away with the game we played a solid second half on both ends of the floor and were able to get the win.”
Cameron Enterline hit a three-pointer in the third and Caleb Templeton scored six of his 15 points in the third stanza, as Rangely increased their lead to nine going into the final quarter. The Panthers outscored the Wildcats 10-9 in the fourth to get the win.
Five minutes into the game against the Dragons, Rangely led 23-4. Kacey Denny hit two more three-pointers, Cameron Enterline added another, Templeton scored eight and Chaz Byerly added six in the first quarter.
“Seniors Caleb and Kacey were really the catalysts for us in the first half and they kept it up throughout the entire game,” Hejl said.
Denny added eight more in the second quarter and Templeton six to give the Panthers a 41-26 lead at halftime, then extended the lead to 21 after the third quarter, behind eight more from Templeton and treys from Denny and Byerly.
“Our balance was good once again with nine different players getting into the scorebook,” Hejl said. “Wins like this are always good to get in front of a home crowd, especially after how sloppy the game was the first time we played these guys.”
The Panthers played the Plateau Valley Cowboys close in the first half but the Cowboys broke out and put the game away in the third quarter.
“Saturday was our toughest game of the weekend,” Hejl said. “We did a great job of battling for about three quarters but against good teams like Plateau Valley, that’s not enough to get the job done.”
Rangely trailed by six at halftime but the Cowboys tripled the Panthers’ score in the third to lead 44-26 going into the last quarter.
“I was really proud of the way our guys started out battling in the first half,” Hejl said. “We had guys hustling for loose balls, fighting for rebounds and making them work for every shot on every possession. Really, the deciding factor in this game was offensive execution in the third quarter, they had it and we didn’t. We’ll definitely be spending time this week in practice working on our offensive movement, aggressiveness and spacing.”
“We don’t have any time to worry about the past because we have two home games this weekend that will basically be the deciding factor for where we finish within the league,” Hejl said. “We basically control our own destiny with these last two games and that’s really all we can focus on.”