Panthers avenge early season loss, advance to district tournament

RANGELY — The way things shook out in the seeding process for the RHS boys basketball team was, in many ways, bittersweet.
After couple of losses down the stretch, and a confusing tiebreaker scenario, the Panthers found themselves falling all the way to the fifth seed.
This put them on the road to Soroco – a place that hasn’t been too kind to the Panthers in recent trips.
Earlier this season, the Panthers found themselves trying to come back from 25 points behind, only to come up three points short. This was their chance to go back into their house and prove that they were the better team, and that’s what they did.
“We knew that getting out to an early lead would be huge,” stated Panthers head coach Mark Skelton. “It really did great things for our confidence when we were able to make some shots early.”
Patrick Phelan made three shots in the first quarter, all of which were from behind the arc. The scoring dropped off for the Cats in the second quarter as they only managed six points, but were also able to extend their lead by one, only allowing five points for the Rams.
The halftime score was 21-13 in favor of the Panthers, but they still weren’t happy with the way they had played.
“Even though we were winning at haltime, I knew we could play better. We didn’t want there to be any doubt about who was the better team,” said senior forward Kanden Brady.
The offensive explosion in the third proved just that, as the Panthers asserted themselves scoring 27 points compared to only 18 by the Rams.
Going into the final eight minutes Rangely knew if they just played smart time would soon run out on Soroco.
Roman Chavez used aggressive perimeter defense to take advantage of some poor ball handling, scoring eight of his 12 points in the final quarter, and the Panthers came away with a solid 16-point victory, 65-49.
Phelan led the team in scoring with 26 points to go along with his 37-point performance in the early season loss at Soroco.
The Panthers will try to avenge another regular season loss in the district semi-finals at 8 p.m. on Saturday against the Meeker Cowboys.