Panther boys stand alone at top of conference with 10-0 6C record
The Park City Panthers keep on winning.
With a couple wins last week, the team extended its conference record to 10-0, pushing the season record to 11-1.
Last Friday, Park City traveled to Rapelje to take on the RPR Renegades in an aggressive rivalry game.
As has become the trademark of this Panther team, Park City began the game hot from the tipoff, catching the Renegades back on their heels. The Panthers went on a 17-3 run during the first seven and a half minutes of the game. RPR’s shots were not falling, and Park City took full advantage. By the end of the first quarter, the Panthers had built a 21-6 lead.
In the second quarter, the Renegade offense finally woke up, and the last minutes of the first half ended in a draw, with each team scoring 17. At halftime, Park City had the lead 38-23.
The Renegades came out of the break flat offensively, and again the Panthers capitalized, adding 10 points to the lead. As the game clock ticked down, both sides played with more aggression, and the game became chippy at times.
With 6:30 left in the game, Park City had a 21-point lead. About a minute later, mutual technical fouls resulted in senior Panther Rylan Gauthier, a leader of the team and an offensive force, being benched for the rest of the game due to Park City’s no-tolerance policy to promote good sportsmanship.
Three minutes later, RPR had already taken full advantage of the situation, going on a 20-6 run to cut the Panther lead to seven points. In the end, the 29 Renegade points in the fourth quarter fell short of producing a full comeback, and Park City held on to win 67-59.
Three Panthers had big nights offensively. Junior Connor McNeil led the team with 22 points, followed closely by senior Talon Johnstone with 21. Gauthier contributed 15 points.
Of the intense, aggressive nature of Friday’s game, Park City Coach Ben Southworth said, “those games are the definition of Class C basketball – something no other class can compare to.”
Southworth explained that the game was a dogfight, as the Panthers had anticipated. He described RPR as a very good team who is “tough, physical, and can shoot the basketball.”
Park City’s coach was glad that his team was able to hold off the Renegades as they tried to mount a comeback, and Southworth noted that “when we face them in two weeks, we are going to, once again, have our hands full.”
The seniors led the night for the RPR offense. Trevor Herzog put up 22 points, followed by Derek Peterson and John Schladweiler with 10 points each.
Renegade Coach Jerry Thompson was very complimentary of Park City, saying they are probably the best team in the league right now, and “they play with a lot of heart and are well-coached.”
Thompson felt the Panthers’ tough, aggressive defense took the Renegades out of their rhythm, and the potent Park City offense put the game out of reach. RPR will have to improve in several areas of the game if they hope to win the next time the two teams face-off, Thompson added.
On Saturday, Park City cruised past the Roberts Rockets. Uncharacteristically, the Panthers came out to a slow start, and at the end of the first quarter, Park City was down one point. The Panther offense got a kick-start in the second quarter, and Park City put up two 19-point quarters while holding Roberts to 11 points in the same time period to create the lead the Panthers maintained throughout the rest of the game. The final score was 56-28.
Gauthier and Johnstone each had 16-point games, followed by McNeil with 11 points.
Southworth said Roberts came out fighting, and the team looks greatly improved from the beginning of the season. He believes the Rockets “could make some moves come tournament time.”
This week, Park City will have two important games. On Friday, the Panthers will travel to Bridger to take on the Scouts, a team that is looking to avenge a loss earlier in the season. Saturday, Park City will face Absarokee at home.
Southworth said this week will test the Panthers.
“We know that if we come out slow against either team it could end poorly for us,” he explained. “We are going to have to have a great week of preparation and hard work in order to compete this weekend, and we are very much looking forward to the challenge.”
On Saturday, the Renegades faced the Plenty Coups Warriors. The first time the two faced-off, RPR came away with the win.
Last week’s game was truly a battle. Both teams came out playing strong basketball, with junior Tristan Gieser leading the Renegades. Gieser made six three-point shots, about half of the team’s halftime score. RPR won the first half by one point, going into the break up 34-33.
Coming out of halftime, Herzog took control of the Renegade offense, scoring 16 points in the second half. The game remained close for the last two quarters, and at one point RPR had a 10-point lead. Turnovers cost the Renegades the lead, and in the end, Plenty Coups came out victorious, 65-60.
Thompson explained that free throws really made a difference in the game. The Warriors made 13 of 19 free throw attempts, while the Renegades were only two for nine. He did highlight the fact that RPR made 12 three-pointers, describing it as “encouraging.”
Herzog led the team with 25 points, followed by Gieser with 20. Schladweiler put up eight.
This Friday, the Renegades will play the Harlowton Engineers at home, and on Saturday RPR will face Custer-Hysham in an away, non-conference game. Thompson expects both games to be close, noting that both teams have good size, and are always improving.
The Huskies had two tough games last weekend.
On Friday, Absarokee faced the Bridger Scouts. The first quarter was very close, but a 26-6 second quarter gave the Scouts the lead at halftime. The Huskies played a tight second half, but the Bridger lead was too much to overcome. The Scouts won in the end 57-42.
Senior Joaquin Pilcher led the Absarokee offense with 20 points. Seniors Roman Zugaza and Tyler Planichek scored 11 and five points, respectively.
Pilcher also led the team with 13 rebounds, followed by Zugaza with nine.
Husky Coach Gregg Feddes felt his team did a good job of responding to a tough weekend the week before, playing much better overall against the Scouts.
As the second quarter ended up being the difference in the game, Feddes said the team is working to put all four quarters together in upcoming games.
Last Saturday, Absarokee played the fourth-ranked team in the state, Manhattan Christian. The Eagles came out playing hard from the beginning, proving why they are ranked so highly. The Husky offense made some headway in the first half, but stalled out in the second half. Manhattan Christian won the non-conference matchup with a 90-38 final.
Pilcher led the team, again, with 15 points. Sophomore Zacc Degele was next with nine, and senior Cole Brown scored five points.
With five rebounds, Pilcher led the Huskies in a second category. Sophomores Ashton Campbell and Payton Langley each had three rebounds.
Feddes described Saturday’s game as a “good lesson” for Absarokee. He was proud of the team’s efforts, and said the offense had some good moments in the first half. While the score may have gotten away from the Huskies, Feddes said playing such a high caliber team really showed Absarokee what it needs to work on.
This week, the Huskies have two conference games – on Friday, Broadview-Lavina comes to town, and on Saturday Absarokee will travel to Park City.
Both games will be challenging, according to Feddes, and the Huskies are focused on improving certain aspects of the game to put together two good performances this weekend.
The Cougars played in two non-conference games last week. The first came against Class A Laurel.
The Locomotives played consistent offense from start to finish, but the Columbus offense never got rolling. A 38-12 halftime Laurel lead led to a 63-17 final score.
Freshman Ty Barta led the team with six points, followed by senior Brandon Horton with five. Sophomore Ricky Preece scored four points.
Assistant Coach Cory Hansen explained that while all of the Cougars played hard and put in good effort, the shots were not falling.
On Friday, Columbus faced Three Forks. The game started out close, but a slow offensive quarter in the second led to a 28-14 Wolf lead at halftime. The Cougars kept in step with Three Forks for the rest of the game, but the early deficit was too much to overcome. The Wolves won, 58-45.
Horton led the team with 12 points, and Preece and Barta each contributed 10.
Hansen said Saturday’s game was a much better team performance, with the ball being more evenly distributed and the team playing well defensively. He felt Horton showed good senior leadership and the younger members of the team made some good contributions.
This week, the Cougars will have two home games: on Thursday, they will face Joliet, and on Friday, Columbus will play Big Timber in a non-conference game.
Hansen said Columbus is looking to continue improving this week against two tough opponents. The goal is to continue to improve and compete well by tournament time.
The Park City-RPR game on Friday was all a rivalry game promises to be – an aggressive matchup, fueled with passion and punctuated with an exciting ending.
After a close first quarter, the Panthers built a slight lead in the second quarter, going into halftime up three points, 18-15.
About halfway through the third quarter, the Renegades fought back to tie the game at 18. In the next two and a half minutes, Park City built up a four-point lead behind three-point shots made by senior Blakely Verke and sophomore Hayley Story. RPR kept the game close, and by the end of the third quarter, the game was tied at 24.
The fourth quarter was a battle. RPR built up a slight lead, and with 50 seconds left in the game, Renegade junior Jocelyn Ott made two free throws to stretch the lead to 33-28. With about 30 seconds left, Story hit another three-pointer to close the game to two.
With 11 seconds left in the game, Park City got the ball back following two missed Renegade free throws. Panther junior Kasidy Robbins sunk a layup with six seconds left to tie the game at 33. Time expired, and the game went into overtime.
In the end, the game came down to Ott’s overtime free throws. She made three, giving the extra push the Renegades needed to seal the win 39-36.
Senior Brittany Albers led the RPR offense with 13 points, followed by Ott with 10. Ott was 83 percent from the free throw line, successfully making five of six attempts in the last minutes of the fourth quarter, and three of four free throws in overtime.
Senior Nynah Bryant and sophomore Carlee Blodgett each had seven points on the night.
Coach Tricia Hess said she is proud of her girls for playing so hard in an intense situation. It was a kind of situation that can not be reproduced in practice, and Hess felt the team handled it well. She noted how players came off the bench and helped spark the Renegade defense when it was needed at the end of the game.
“I told them what we needed, and they went out and did the job,” Hess noted. “It was very nice to come away with that win.”
The Park City offense was led by Story with 15 points. Verke put up eight, and Robbins scored seven.
“A close, hard-fought game” is how Panther Coach Michelle Gauthier described the RPR matchup.
She felt that a lot of things came together for Park City Friday night, especially the Panther defense. Free throws were the difference in the game, and Gauthier noted that the Park City girls are going to work on that aspect of the game.
On Saturday, Park City played the Roberts Rockets. The Panthers controlled the game from the beginning, holding the Rockets to one point in the first quarter and two points in the second to go up 39-3 at halftime. A scoreless fourth quarter for Roberts sealed the 53-13 Park City victory.
As Coach Gauthier noted, the Panthers had “pretty even scoring throughout the team.” The offense was led by five players, who each scored eight points – Verke, Story, junior Breanne Smith, sophomore Sydney Kluth, and sophomore Alexis Goldy.
Gauthier said that the Roberts game was “a good confidence builder,” and she mentioned that her team shot the ball well.
The Panthers are looking forward to a competitive weekend of play this week. On Friday, Park City will travel to Bridger to play the Scouts. Gauthier noted that it was really only one bad quarter of play that hurt the Panthers the last time the two teams met, so Park City is looking for redemption.
Saturday, the Panthers will face the Absarokee Huskies at home. Gauthier said Park City will have to step up and simply play better if the Panthers are to beat the Huskies the second go-round.
“I think the girls are up for the challenge and ready to redeem themselves,” Gauthier mentioned.
The Renegades did not find such success on Saturday when they faced the very tough Plenty Coups Lady Warriors in an away game.
RPR came out flat, and the Lady Warriors took full advantage to create a 46-5 lead at halftime. Plenty Coups maintained the lead for the rest of the game for a 66-13 Lady Warrior victory.
Three Renegades scored all of RPR’s points – Blodgett put up five, and Ott and Albers each contributed four.
The Renegades will have three opportunities to bounce back during the next week. On Friday, the undefeated Harlowton Engineers will travel to Reed Point. On Saturday, RPR travels to Hysham to face the Custer-Hysham Rebels. Monday, the Renegades will be back at it again, with a road game against Absarokee.
Last Friday, the Huskies got revenge for a loss earlier in the season to the Bridger Scouts in an away matchup. Absarokee came out of the gates strong, outscoring Bridger 16-2 in the first quarter. After a closer second quarter, the Huskies entered halftime with a 24-8 lead. In the second half, the Scouts chipped away at the lead, but the efforts were not enough, and Absarokee held on for the 38-30 win.
Junior Mallorey Sheppard led the Absarokee offense with 15 points, followed by senior Rebecka Lester with 12. Junior Makensi McCally scored five points.
On Saturday, Absarokee had a very tough non-conference game against the Manhattan Christian Eagles. The Huskies stayed with the Eagles for the first half, going into the break down only seven points. A 17-3 third quarter for Manhattan Christian put the game out of reach. The Eagles won with a final of 47-29.
Sheppard, Lester, and McCally were the top Husky offensive players again, scoring 12, eight, and six points, respectively.
Absarokee has three conference games on the schedule for this week. First, they will face Broadview-Lavina at home on Friday. Then, on Saturday, the Huskies will travel to Park City for a cross-county matchup. Next Monday, Absarokee is set to play RPR at home.
The Cougars had two tough non-conference games last week.
On Thursday, Columbus traveled to take on the Class A Laurel Locomotives. The Cougars battled back from a nine-point deficit at the end of the first quarter to go into half down only three points.
Laurel outscored Columbus by six points in the third to regain a nine-point lead going into the final quarter of play. The Cougars played a tight fourth quarter, but it was not enough for a comeback, and Columbus lost the game 52-41.
The Cougar offense was led by junior Alexa Riveland with nine points, going three for six from three-point land. She was followed by junior Morgan Kirch with eight, and sophomore Brenna Rouane and freshman Trista Teeters with five points each.
Coach Jeromey Burke felt his team moved the ball well and did a good job of being patient offensive players.
He noted that it was “a string of turnovers, some mental lapses on defense, and a couple missed layups that turned into immediate points” for Laurel that hurt the Cougars in the second half.
Last Friday, Columbus played Three Forks at home. Similarly to the Laurel game, the Wolves jumped out to an early lead, but the Cougars fought back to enter halftime down only one point.
The third quarter was tight, and entering the final minutes of play, Three Forks was still ahead by only one point. In the fourth, the Wolves’ offense caught a spark that the Cougars’ offense did not. Three Forks won the game with a 47-35 final score.
The Columbus offense was led by senior Camryn Ault with 10 points. Kirch put up seven, and Rouane had six points. Leading with eight rebounds was Kirch.
“I thought overall we did a pretty good job competing with one of the best teams in the state,” Burke said. “Once again, a couple minutes worth of mistakes in the second half cost us.”
This week, Columbus will have only one conference game. On Thursday, the Cougars will have a home re-match against Joliet. The J-Hawks are the only 4B team that has defeated Columbus this season, and the Cougars are out to avenge the loss.
On Saturday, Columbus will play Big Timber at home. The matchup is not a conference game, but there is the possibility Columbus could face Big Timber at the southern divisional tournament.
Burke said the players are motivated to return to district play this week, and they