A pair of weekend losses augured the start of poor health for the Saratoga Panthers boys basketball team, who were missing half their roster to illness by practice Monday. The Panthers fell 53-43 in Encampment Friday, then lost 66-58 to basketball powerhouse Kaycee at home the next afternoon.
"I think it was maybe one of those games where we wanted to win so bad that we–especially the first half–just didn't play so well," said coach Jason Williams, referring to the Encampment game.
"We surrendered the lead in the first quarter and were never able to get back," he summed up. Williams said that Encampment's combination of fundamentally strong defense and good coaching make them difficult foes to mount a comeback against.
The Panthers were back about 10 by halftime, rallied momentarily in the third-quarter but ultimately succumbed.
Williams had more to say about the game against Kaycee. "I was a little concerned about how we'd come out in that game because that was such a disappointment Friday night," Williams recalled.
Against Kaycee, Saratoga was down by 20 at half time, but launched a strong second-half effort to bring themselves within 5. "To come back against that team–I was really proud of the boys' Saturday effort," Williams recalled.
The coach said there were definitely some bright spots over the weekend, including good play from point guard Gage Bartlett. "His stats speak for themselves; He's a great ballplayer and he brings it every game," Williams said. Logan Seahorn also dropped a number of threes against Kaycee on his way to 11 total points.
On defense, Morgan Rempel "played the best defensive games he's played Friday and Saturday," Williams said. Rempel seems to get better every week, he continued, and Rempel was effective against Kaycee's strong guards.
When asked, Williams said the big goal for this week is just getting healthy. The boys will take on Walden at home Friday, then they'll have a conference match-up against Snake River Saturday afternoon.
"We're getting to that situation where we need to pick up a conference win," Williams noted. Snake River lacks intimidating size, "but their guards are really good ball-handlers and they're really fast," Williams said. Snake River is "a team that can throw just about anything at us," including creative zone, man-to-man and press schemes, Williams said.
"We're planning for speed," and hopefully a speedy recovery from weekend bugs, the coach concluded.