The Saratoga Sun -

Lady Panthers are unified


Erik Gantt

Shaelee Hamann, in white, drives into a wall of Southeast defenders Saturday afternoon.

Head coach Heather Bartlett said her Saratoga Lady Panthers are unified in the face of switching coaches mid-season.

Scott Bokelman started the season with the girls but his cancer diagnosis and subsequent surgery has kept him off the court. Saturday's home game in Saratoga saw the beginning of fund raising led by the Lady Panthers that will continue at every home game for the rest of this season.

In spite of what Bartlett said she sees as the Lady Panthers (0-4 conference, 3-9 overall) putting forth their best effort and having four quarters of great basketball, they came away with two losses last week.

The Niobrara County Lady Tigers (1-3, 6-10) handed Saratoga a 45-25 defeat in Lusk on Friday. The Lady Panthers played a strong first half in Lusk going into the locker room down by 1 point with a score of 14-15. Coach Bartlett said, "They played super intense defense the whole first half ... We just need to be able to put together a whole game now."

Lusk held Saratoga to only 11 points in the second half and outscored the Lady Panthers by 19. Shaelee Hamman and Haley Soles led the team in rebounding against the Lady Tigers with nine and five boards respectively. Cruz Escobedo led in scoring with 10 points followed by Hamann with 7 points.

At home on Saturday, the Lady Panthers fell to the Southeast 33-51. The Lady Panthers were fierce in the first quarter against the Lady Cyclones edging out a 10-9 lead. Unfortunately, Southeast was virtually unstoppable in the second quarter, going on a 14 point run and outscoring the Lady Panthers 2-16. The score at half was 12-26. After a slow third quarter the Saratoga girls regained their composure and outscored the Lady Cyclones 11-8 in the fourth, but it was not enough to take back the lead.

Coach Bartlett sees no fault in the Lady Panthers play. She said Southeast is just a tough team and her girls played them to the end.

"As long as you try as hard as you can for me, I'll never get mad at you," Bartlett has said to the Lady Panthers adding that she feels like they have never let her down. Coach Bartlett also said she is proud of the girls for trying their hardest both in practice and during games.

Meredith Lincoln took on her familiar role leading the Lady Panthers offense with 13 points while Katie Loose took down six out of the teams 15 rebounds against Southeast.

This week the Lady Panthers face two conference opponents in the Burns Lady Broncs (2-2, 8-9) and the Pine Bluffs Lady Hornets (2-0, 9-1). Friday the Saratoga girls take their game to Burns with tip off at 5:00 p.m. On Saturday Saratoga hosts Pine Bluffs starting at 1:30 p.m.


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