Panthers win by 20 in Tiger face-off


Doug Radunich

Saratoga's John Brennan, right, attempts to break past Encampment's Harold Jackson during Friday's rivalry game at Saratoga Middle/High School. The Panthers won 80-60.

The Saratoga boys' basketball team was an unstoppable scoring machine Friday, slamming the local rival, Encampment Tigers, with a score of 80-60.

Playing on their home turf Friday evening, the Panthers (5-0) maintained a wide lead for much of the game, scoring high with 24-11 at the end of the first quarter, and 64-40 at the end of the third. The Panthers also won their Saturday game against North Park, Colo., with 54-47.

Coach Josh Sandlian said the boys had been practicing hard with their defense, which helped them offensively during Friday's game time.

"We worked a lot in practice this week on defense and how defense turns into our offense, so the guys came out and executed that, which I was proud of," Sandlian said. "The way they came out and played was great, and the way they worked on the things we worked on at practice, and that was key. We've got a good group and they're coming around as shooters, and we were hot tonight. They're coming around and play as a team, and we've got to keep that mentality up."

John Brennan and Braxton Schwartzkopf were both on fire for the Panthers, each earning more than 20 points for the team. Brennan brought in the most with 25, while Schwartzkopf grabbed 24.

"They both happened to be pretty hot tonight, and I think Braxton made four or five in a row in the second half," Sandlian said.

Other contributing scorers included Ben Falk with 11 points, Rodrigo Escobedo with two, Seth Harrison with three, Cameron Collamer with three, Darian Williams with seven, Andrew Janecek-Oiler with four and Jace Berger with one. Sandlian said he is more focused on winning game after game, rather than who the star scorer is each night.

"This is a team that has been playing together, and we talked a lot about how it doesn't matter what the stats are, just as long as we get to state," he said. "Somebody's going to have a good night while somebody's not going to have as good of a night. We can't have one person think that now they're the leading scorer on our team because that's not how it works, it doesn't matter. The score could be 2-0 but as long as we're working as a team to get the win, that's all that matters."

During the North Park game, Brennan led again with 18 points, Schwartzkopf netted 11, Collamer snagged nine, Harrison pitched in three and Falk sank one. Emmanuel Pattishall-Baker, who hadn't scored during Friday's game, was second to Brennan in points with a total of 12.

Encampment coach Clint Bromley said he knew it would be hard to catch up in Friday's game, once Saratoga reached 24 points in the first quarter. The Tigers, now at 3-1 for the season, played well but could have done better defensively, according to Bromley.

"When you give up 24 points in the first quarter, it's pretty hard to come back from that," he said. "We didn't do a good enough job on defense, and they executed really well on offense. There's not much you can do about that, I guess, other than go back home and regroup. I thought Luke Pantle had a really nice game and Guy Erickson played well, and if we can get the rest of them on the same track, I think we'll be all right."

Pantle scored more than half of the Tigers' total points, with 31 total, and Brett Miller was second in command with nine. For Saratoga, Bromley said Schwartzkopf's hot scoring streak helped throw the Tigers off in the first quarter, but commended him for being able to score against a large defense.

"Schwartzkopf just went off on us and we had three or four different guys defend him, but it didn't make any difference," he said. "He had a great game and he's a good player. We knew coming in he was capable of all that, and with good players good things happen. It was a really good game for him."

Also scoring for the Tigers was Erickson with eight points, followed by David Flauding, Brett Ralston and Jared Stewart all bringing in four points each. Bromley said he was pleased to see his boys manage 60 points in a game so early in the season.

"We scored 60 points and that's more than we've scored so far this season, and we scored it against a pretty good ball team," he said. "We just have to do a better job on defense, and we have to execute our offense. I really didn't see our offense executed like I wanted it to, until about 1:33 into the fourth quarter. By then the game was out of reach, and there was nothing you could do about that."

After a first-game loss by 20 points, Bromley said he now looks forward to his Tiger/Panther rematch coming in January.

"We get to play them again in a month, and hopefully we'll turn it around a little bit," Bromley said.

Encampment's junior varsity Tigers beat Saratoga 25-24 on Friday before the varsity game. The following day, the JV Panthers lost to North Park 30-58.

The Panthers play the Little Snake River Rattlers at 1 p.m. Friday, at LSRV School in Baggs followed by a home game against Pine Bluffs at noon on Saturday. Up next for the Tigers is a junior varsity game against Rawlins, which is at 4:30 p.m. Friday, at Rawlins High School.


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