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RANGELY I Just like during volleyball, the Northwest League’s girls’ basketball season is expected to be a toss-up.
Rangely was in the thick of things during volleyball, and the Lady Panthers hope to compete for the title in basketball as well.
“You know, Paonia will be good. I think Hayden will be right in there somewhere, and hopefully we will be also,” said Rangely coach Jimmie Mergelman. “And what I saw of Meeker at the scrimmage, they will be fine, too. Our league, there are a lot of good teams in it.”
When told Meeker coach Hallie Blunt listed Rangely as one of the favorites to win the league, Mergelman said, “That was nice of her.”
Rangely will open the basketball season today with a 4 p.m. game against Middle Park in the Cowboy Shootout in Meeker.
If the Lady Panthers win, they will play again at 6:15 p.m. Friday. If they lose in the first round, they will play next at 3 p.m. Friday.
“It’s a good way to start the season,” Mergelman said of the traditional Meeker tournament.
Again, just like during volleyball, Rangely will be dominated by its junior class.
“I only have two seniors and a sophomore, then I have a big freshmen and junior class,” Mergelman said.
The Lady Panthers have two returning starters from last season — senior Audrey Hogan and junior Marie Morton. The other starters will be Dakota Kenney, Torie Slagle and Rozilynn Thacker, all juniors. All saw considerable playing time last season.
The Lady Panthers finished third at the district tournament last season, then won the first game at regionals before losing to Paonia, which ended up finishing second at state.
Rangely’s junior-dominated team will also include Rosalise Coombs coming off the bench as well as Kristin Steele, the other senior. Lone sophomore Haley Enterline will also play a role.
Mergelman said the Lady Panthers will be minus returning starter Victoria Phelan, another junior, who is recovering from knee surgery and won’t play until January. But, otherwise, the team is healthy.