The Park City Panthers put away a pair of conference wins last week to improve their conference record to an undefeated 4-0.
On Tuesday of last week, Park City faced Broadview-Lavina at home. The Panthers came out of the gates hot, outscoring the Pirates 22-6 in the first quarter. A strong second quarter put Park City ahead 40-20 at halftime.
Coming out of half, the Panthers scored three points for every one point scored by the Pirates in the third quarter. Broaview-Lavina finally found some momentum in the final quarter, but the Park City lead was too much to overcome, and the Panthers won 68-46.
Three Park City players had big offensive games Tuesday night – senior Talon Johnstone led the team with 17 points, and senior Rylan Gauthier and junior Connor McNeil each had 16 points.
Last Thursday, the Panthers played in a cross-county rivalry game against the Absarokee Huskies.
The game was very tight for the first half. Park City and Absarokee went back and forth, neither team really taking a commanding lead. In the second quarter, the Huskies played very tight defense, taking advantage of Panther mistakes. Absarokee could not get the shots to fall, however, and going into halftime Park City was up two points.
The second half began where the first left off, and the two teams remained neck and neck. About halfway through the third quarter, though, the Panthers began rolling; Park City was hitting shots and pulling ahead. By the end of the quarter, Park City had an eight point lead.
Absarokee continued to play well through the final minutes of the game, but so did Park City, and the Panthers maintained the lead for a 56-44 final.
Gauthier played well for Park City, putting up 16 points (including two three-point shots), five steals, and six assists. He also grabbed seven rebounds.
Johnstone had a good game as well, adding 14 points and a team-high 13 rebounds – seven defensive and six offensive. Junior Austin Popp contributed 11 points and nine rebounds.
The Huskies were led by senior Roman Zugaza with 12 points, two steals, and four assists. Senior Joaquin Pilcher contributed eight points, two steals, and led the team with 10 rebounds.
Sophomore Zacc Degele also put up eight points, including one three-pointer. Jonas Williams, a senior, had seven rebounds on the night.
Husky Coach Gregg Feddes was proud of his team’s effort, saying the boys played well defensively, they just struggled to make shots, especially in the first half.
“It is fun to coach a group that just won’t quit,” he said. “Whenever Park City made a run in the second half, we tried to made a run of our own. We just never had quite enough to get the lead.”
The Huskies discuss lessons to take away from each game, and Feddes explained that the team knows what to correct and work on over the break. The team is anxious to get started.
Park City Coach Ben Southworth was pleased with how his team played last week, saying, “The boys fought through some adversity and we had some young guys step up huge for us.”
He said that both Broadview-Lavina and Absarokee were tough teams.
“Absarokee gave us pretty much all we could handle, and I am looking forward to many more games against the Huskies. Coach Feddes has their team playing very well and they are going to be a good competitor throughout the season,” Southworth explained.
The Panthers’ next game will be at home on Thursday, Jan. 4, against the Bridger Scouts. The game will be a face-off between two teams undefeated in conference play.
Southworth said Park City is embracing the challenge of facing one of the best teams in the conference coming out of winter break. The Panthers will work to have successful practices in the next week to greatly improve and ensure that they will compete well against Bridger.
Absarokee will play on Tuesday, Jan. 2, in Harlowton. The game was rescheduled from last week due to the weather.
The Cougars inched closer to a win last week, losing to Joliet by one shot.
The entire game was close. After going up two points in the first quarter, Columbus maintained the lead for a 35-33 halftime score.
The third quarter was a continuation of the tight first half. The J-Hawks were able to outscore the Cougars by one point, cutting the Columbus lead to one going into the final minutes of the game. In the fourth, Joliet was able to create a very small lead, and the Cougars could not quite overcome it. The J-Hawks won the game 70-67.
Leading the Cougar offense was senior Brandon Horton with 17 points. Junior Carson West added 15, and senior Kenneth Smith and sophomore Trey Stampfel each contributed 12 points.
Assistant Coach Cory Hansen said the Cougars played a very competitive game and handled possessions carefully. In the first half, Columbus only turned the ball over four times.
“We got well-rounded shooting from several players, which in the long term will make our team tougher to defend,” he explained. “We had some late game mistakes that we certainly learned from and will take into account in future games.”
The team hopes to improve defensively and continue to play as well offensively throughout the rest of the season, Hansen said.
Next, Columbus will take on the undefeated Roundup Panthers at home on Thursday, Jan. 4.