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RANGELY I The luck of the draw didn’t prove very lucky.
Based on how they finished in the league, the Panthers drew county rival and top-ranked Meeker in the first round of districts Saturday. It was the third meeting this season between the two Rio Blanco County teams.
And the outcome was the same each time.
Last Saturday, Rangely lost in a rout, 83-47, on the Cowboys’ home court.
“It’s not the one you look forward to having, but someone has to go there,” Panther coach Mark Skelton said of drawing the undefeated Cowboys, who are 20-0 going into this weekend’s next round of district games in Rangely. “About the only team that can play with them (in the league) will be Hayden.”
Previously, Rangely lost to Meeker by the scores of 77-39 and 72-49.
The Panthers’ run came to an end with an 8-12 record. Skelton was philosophical about the season-ending loss.
“It always comes to this point, just sometimes earlier than other times,” the Rangely coach said. “We would have liked to have done that (advanced to the next round), but you take what you can get. We tried, but it just didn’t work out this year.”
Saturday’s game was the final of their high school careers for Adam Dahl, Kaulen Pennell, Mark Perzinski and Patrick Phelan. Fellow senior Kindal Cushman, who competed at the state wrestling tournament last week, pulled double duty with the Rangely basketball team when the wrestling scheduled allowed.
“They are a good group of kids,” Skelton said of the seniors. “I wish for all the seniors they could have gone on at least two more weekends.”
Phelan was the Panthers’ leading scorer all season and averaged around 25 points per game going into Saturday.
“I’ve probably only had two kids who were comparable, and that was Donovan Martinez and Brian (Skelton),” the Rangely coach said. “All three were very dedicated players. I’ve been here (in the Rangely School District) for 26 years, and I’d definitely put Patrick among the top athletes for basketball ability. Patrick is in that upper echelon of players.”
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Mark Skelton, who also serves as the athletic director at Rangely Junior/Senior High, is undecided about his future as boys’ basketball coach.
“This has been my first year as athletic director, and I’ve really enjoyed it,” he said.