Over the weekend, the Saratoga girls basketball team was on the wrong end of a pair of 4-point games. "It was a tough weekend. I mean, we were right there both games and had our chance to win," coach Heather Bartlett recalled of the home squeakers against Cokeville Friday and Farson-Eden Saturday.
Against Cokeville, the Panthers were up several times but ended the night with a 43-39 loss. Bartlett said it was "a really close game all the way through. We were winning in the third quarter and then just couldn't hold onto it at the end."
The coach was quick to add, however "I always told them that I'll never be upset with them as long as they play as hard as they can, and they tried as hard as they could. I was proud of them and they did the best they could."
Saturday only brought more heartbreak, however. After one quarter, Saratoga and Farson were neck-and-neck, with the Panthers down 13-11. By half, the Pronghorns expanded that lead to 26-18, but the Panthers kept their composure, playing catch-up in the third quarter to take a slim 36-35 advantage into the fourth quarter.
In a fourth quarter battle, fouls and traveling were called on both teams several times, and momentum seemed to hinge on performance at the free throw line. When either team missed free throws, their opponent was ready to capitalize, and the lead seesawed.
Saratoga was up 43-42 with 95 seconds left in regulation, but when the dust settled, Farson ended up with the victory, by a 49-45 margin.
"I hate being in charge of the clock for a game like that," said volunteer timekeeper Brad Bauer afterwards. A few minutes after the final buzzer sounded there were still drops of sweat on Bauer's forehead.
"The only way to learn how to play in high pressure games is to be in high pressure games," Bartlett noted.
Freshman Aubrey Berger stretches through a sea of arms to reach a rebound.
She did say there were some positive takeaways from the weekend, too. "Shaelee Hamann had 24 points (Saturday). Both games she showed great senior leadership, so she deserves a lot of accolades for really stepping up," Bartlett said.
"Our defense looked really good, and we held them to pretty low-scoring. It was just our offense that needs a little work," Bartlett said of the weekend.
Saratoga will hardly have a reprieve to recover from the weekend. The Lady Panthers played at home against North Park Tuesday after press time, and will have away contests against Hanna Elk Mountain Friday and Little Snake River (LSR) Saturday. Bartlett said the team will be mostly focusing on preparing for the conference game against LSR.
"I'm not worried about them bouncing back at all. They've played hard for me all year," Bartlett said of the week ahead.