Lady Panthers end season fourth in league

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RANGELY | Rangely’s lady Panthers closed out their 2021 basketball season with a loss to the No. 6 Paonia Eagles. This game determined the third and fourth place teams out of the 2A Western Slope League. Since the league was split into two divisions this year, teams had to cross over and play each other to determine their final placings. Leading the Panthers in scoring for the game was junior Adelynn Halcomb, who had 13 points. Following Halcomb in scoring was junior Mary Scoggins, who scored 12 points. Senior Maya Mercado added five points, freshman Ryann Mergelman and Anikka Cantrell added four points, senior Dixie Rhea added two points, and sophomore Kyrah Phelps added one point.

Freshman Annika Cantrell put four points on the board against the Paonia Eagles and led the team in rebounds this season. | MATT SCOGGINS PHOTO

The Panthers overall record fell to 6-6 and 4-2 in league play with the loss. One more tough defeat from the Eagles was enough to knock the Lady Panthers out of the top 24 teams in 2A, which did not qualify the Panthers for the 2021 Colorado 2A State Basketball tournament. The Panthers found themselves sitting at 26th place in the final composite standings of rankings from the CHSAA RPI, CHSAANow Coaches Poll, MaxPreps Rankings, and Packard rankings. The only automatic qualifiers into the state tournament are the teams who won their league outright, and the final teams were added based on the composite rankings stated earlier.

Moving forward, the Panthers will return four of five starters from the 2021 team. The team’s top four scorers will return for the 2022 season, including Scoggins, who averaged 12 points, nine rebounds, two assists, and two steals a game; Halcomb, who averaged 10 points, four rebounds, one assist, and two steals per game; Mergelman with nine points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals per game; and Cantrell with her team-leading nine rebounds per game. The future is bright for the Panthers in 2021 as they look to return with a vengeance to overcome the emotions of not making the 2021 Colorado 2A state playoff bracket.

2021 seniors that will be departing the team include Dixie Rhea, Maya Mercado and Janessa Mast. Rhea will be the lone starter departing the program and was always tasked with shutting down the opposing team’s top offensive performer. Rhea accomplished this on every occasion and became known in the Western Slope League for her defensive prowess. Rhea closed her career out with 42 total points, 56 rebounds, 34 steals and 12 assists.

Maya Mercado moved to Rangely during the 2020 summer and immediately added depth to the Panthers roster. Mercado closed out her lone campaign with the Panthers with 22 points, 52 rebounds, two assists and two steals. Mercado added to the senior leadership with her excellent attitude and her refusal to accept defeat.

The last departing senior is Janessa Mast, who also moved to Rangely during the 2020 summer. Mast began the season as the team manager, but after watching the girls compete in games and practice she chose to lace up her basketball shoes one more time. Mast did not accumulate stats for the 2021 season but always added the senior leadership and kept the long bus rides fun with her bubbly personality.

The coaching staff and the underclassmen want to thank the departing seniors for their dedication and ability to adapt during 2020 and 2021. These three women are headed on to do great things with their lives, and their futures hold endless opportunities for them.

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