A tough weekend featuring away losses against top 2A contenders Cokeville and Farson-Eden left the Saratoga Panthers girls basketball team bruised but unbowed. For senior Meredith Lincoln, who suffered a deep thigh contusion during a 43-37 defeat at the hands of Cokeville Saturday, the turn of phrase was no metaphor.
Lincoln’s injury doesn’t appear serious, and she should be ready to practice at full-strength this week, coach Heather Bartlett said, but the incident came at an inopportune time and its location gave the Panthers a scare.
According to Bartlett, Cokeville had a narrow two-point lead with 90 seconds to go in the game when Lincoln fell, clutching her knee area. Lincoln had already scored 16 points in the game, and Bartlett said, “losing her in that last 1:30 really hurt us.” Bartlett said Lincoln’s replacement played well, but called the senior, “our leading player, really,” and said her absence was tough to make up for in the decisive final ticks of the game clock.
Against Farson the night before, Bartlett said the Panthers were happy to just keep things close. Though the match ended with Farson up 52-38, Bartlett said the Panthers kept the differential in the single digits for almost the entire game, with a pair of technical fouls toward the end of regulation making the game appear more out-of-reach than it was.
“We broke (Farson’s) press well, we ran our offense well and we kept it pretty close most of the game,” Bartlett said. Sarah Burton had an 18-point game, and Bartlett added, “I think we played Farson better than they were expecting us to play them.”
According to the coach, part of the problem was a tall, hard-to-defend Farson forward who did a lot of damage. Senior Katie Loose, who is typically deployed against those tall players, got into foul trouble early on, forcing mismatches that Farson took advantage of again and again.
Even so, Bartlett said, “the girls played really hard and I was proud of them.” The Panthers have another challenging weekend coming up, featuring a 5:30 p.m. Jan. 20 away game against Valley rivals Encampment, and a 2:30 p.m. Jan. 21 homecourt game against Kaycee.
“We compete hard on the court, but then we’re always friends again off the court,” said Bartlett of the Tiger-Panther rivalry. Come show some feline fidelity this weekend, whichever group of ladies you happen to support.