Panthers jump to fifth in league

Junior Dixie Rhea contributed a point in an exciting back-and-forth game against Soroco. The girls gave it their best effort, but couldn’t quite close it up and lost to the Rams by six points. The Panthers will host Meeker this Friday. MATT SCOGGINS PHOTO
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Junior Dixie Rhea contributed a point in an exciting back-and-forth game against Soroco. The girls gave it their best effort, but couldn’t quite close it up and lost to the Rams by six points. The Panthers will host Meeker this Friday.
Matt Scoggins Photo

RBC | The lady Panthers traveled to play the Soroco Rams, the third-place team in the Western Slope Conference, last week. The Rams boasted a 9-4 overall mark and a 4-1 record in the Western Slope League coming into the match. The Panthers came in with a 10-3 overall mark and a 3-2 league record. The game proved to be a slugfest between two great teams vying for one of the top spots in the league behind Meeker and Hotchkiss.

The Panthers came out hot to start the match and took an 8-3 lead at the end of the first quarter led by Adelynn Halcomb with four points. Kacie Lapp and Hannah Wilkie added two points each. The Rams cold-shooting countered by the Panthers great rebounding in the first quarter helped Rangely to the first-quarter lead.

Soroco then stepped up their quick play defense in the second quarter and forced numerous turnovers, outscoring the Panthers 14-4 in the second quarter. The Panthers reached the foul line consistently in the second quarter but they could not convert on their free-throws. Wilkie led all second-quarter scorers with two points while Mary Scoggins and Halcomb converted one free-throw each for one point.

In the third quarter, Soroco stepped up its half-court pressure and when Rangely broke the pressure they continuously converted on made shots from their offense. The Panthers were led in the  quarter by Halcomb with seven points and Wilkie with two points for the Panthers nine total points in the quarter. Soroco’s 10 points countered this scoring from the Panthers and the third quarter closed out with a 21-27 deficit for the Panthers.

The fourth quarter proved to be fun for the audience as both teams responded to scoring by the other team. The Panthers could not find a way to force a Soroco turnover and convert the turnover into points to chip away at the Rams six-point lead to start the quarter. When the Panthers forced the game into a four-point difference, two three-point baskets for the Rams at crucial times proved to be kryptonite for the Panthers and the Rams secured the league win with a score of 38-32. The Panthers were led in scoring by Halcomb with 12 points, Wilkie with eight, Scoggins with seven, Lapp with four and Dixie Rhea with one.

Continuing in league play the Panthers hosted the current Western Slope League-leading Hotchkiss Bulldogs. The Bulldogs came to Rangely with a 10-1 overall record and an undefeated 5-0 record in league play. Halcomb continued her hot shooting to lead the Panthers in scoring in the first quarter with four of the Panthers 11 first-quarter points. Lapp added three points along with Wilkie and Scoggins two points apiece.

The second quarter proved to be the Panther’s best quarter of the game as they outscored the Bulldogs 13-3. Scoggins and Halcomb both scored four points for the Panthers. Lapp and Wilkie each scored three. The Panthers went into halftime with a 24-12 lead and high confidence.

In the second half free throws proved to be Rangely’s Achilles’ heel as they only converted on 42% of their free throws, but in the end it was enough to beat the previously undefeated Bulldogs in league play. The Panthers were led in scoring by Scoggins with 15 points, Halcomb with 11, Lapp with eight and Wilkie with five points.

The loss dropped the Bulldogs to a tie for second place with Soroco as both teams now sit at 5-1 in the Western Slope Conference. The Panthers received some help from Meeker, Hayden and North Park who all beat Plateau Valley recently to drop the Cowboys to 3-3 in the league. The huge league win over the Bulldogs helped the Panthers jump two spots in league standings. The Panthers now sit in fifth place behind Meeker, Soroco, Hotchkiss and DeBeque. DeBeque will drop to a 1A district tournament so that would move each team below DeBeque up a spot in standings heading into districts. The Panthers will continue their league play with a home game against the Meeker Cowboys on Friday, Feb. 7.

Special to the Herald Times