The Saratoga boys basketball team split their weekend games, posting a 55-45 win over Cokeville Friday but falling 59-46 to Farson the next afternoon. Both contests took place on home hardwood for the Panthers, but coach Jason Williams described his lads as still being depleted by an illness that ravaged the school's basketball program the week before.
Friday, "We came out with a lot of energy and finally put together, maybe not a full game, but a good three quarters, three-and-a-half quarters," Williams said.
Williams called out two Panthers for superior play against Cokeville: Sam Schnieder and Morgan Rempel, both of whom he said "hit some big two-pointers for us."
Point guard Gage Bartlett also had a break-out performance against Cokeville. Though he was held to 1 point in the first half of the game, Bartlett went on a second half tear, putting 20 points on the board in the last 16 minutes of regulation. "He really stepped up. He always does," Williams said of Bartlett.
Against Cokeville, "We were really able to use the crowd and were feeding off the crowd a lot and were able to use that, then, to put (the game) away," the coach recalled.
By the following afternoon, however, Williams said the Panthers were visibly fatigued. The team had had to take it slow at practice while some athletes recovered from the flu, and even home fan cheers couldn't counter the resulting lack of conditioning.
"When you have tired legs like that, one of the first things you lose is the rebounding and the blocking out. That killed us. Our rebounding, or lack of rebounding, I should say," Williams said.
The Panthers got out in front early on, ending the first quarter with a nearly-double digit lead over Farson, but that advantage had dwindled to 2 points by half. The Panthers headed to the locker room astride a precarious 26-24 advantage.
Saratoga couldn't hold on. The third ended with Farson ahead 44-36, and the Panther's deficit would ultimately balloon to 59-46 by game's end. What started out looking like a probable Saratoga blow-out ended in the loss column.
Greg Swanson shows tenacity in battling for the ball Saturday afternoon.
Williams sounded a hopeful note while talking about Logan Seahorn's growing role on the team, however. "He's been working hard in practice, and he's been seeing more and more varsity time - and earning it. He's solid with the ball and makes good decisions and shoots the ball really well," Williams said of the speedy freshman. "He's becoming a bigger part of the varsity game."
Tired or not, the Panthers have a full week of basketball ahead of them. Tuesday after press time, Saratoga faced Walden at home, and over the weekend the boys will travel to Hanna Elk Mountain Friday and then to Baggs for a high-stakes conference contest Saturday.
Williams said the focus will be on Baggs. "They beat us pretty badly here earlier this week, so we'll have a lot of things to be working on." Baggs, he continued, is "just a really solid team that you can't ever let up on."
Looking further down the line, Williams said, "A good thing about this sickness is, maybe we'll be hitting our stride again by tournament time." Panther fans can hope. The conference clock is ticking.