The Saratoga Sun -

Lady Panthers gauge progress

Coach not worried about 0-3 start, finding team’s strengths


While Heather Bartlett’s Saratoga Middle School boys basketball team was getting anointed conference champions, her other team, the Saratoga High School girls basketball team was getting off to a bit of a rocky start. Over the weekend in Burns, the Lady Panthers dropped all three games in their first tournament of the year, but Bartlett isn’t worried.

“It was kind of a good weekend just to see where the team was at,” Bartlett said. She described the tournament as more of an opportunity for experimentation than a true test of her Panthers’ abilities. Because of her middle school coaching obligations, Bartlett wasn’t able to make the first two days of competition for the Saratoga girls’ team. Bartlett’s husband (and assistant coach) Greg Bartlett guided the team in her stead, however, and reported back to her on the girls’ progress.

Friday, the Panthers dropped one match to Shoshone 36-26, and lost a hard-fought battle with Moorcroft 31-25. “They did experiment with different players in different places and stuff like that,” Bartlett said of those efforts.

Saturday’s game, against Lingle-Fort Laramie produced a more lopsided result: 59-35, advantage Lingle.

One of the problems Bartlett said her assistant coach reported to her was simply trouble finding the basket. “They had a really low shooting percentage, which hurt them,” she said. “They were getting (open for) good shots, they just weren’t making them,” Bartlett explained.

Free throws also presented difficulties, with the girls failing to connect on the line. Bartlett blamed those issues largely on early nerves and a young season. “We anticipate those (shots) will start to fall better as the season goes along,” she said.

In the week to come at practice, Bartlett said the team would be focusing on running defensive drills and plays. “We’ll work on our shooting, obviously, and try and boost those percentages, too” Bartlett said.

Up next for Saratoga is a tournament featuring Burlington, Riverside and Dubois Dec. 16-17 in Shoshone. “We haven’t played (those teams) recently, so we have to be prepared for anything, really,” Bartlett said.

She’s confident in her team and its experience though. Positions and plays are liable to shift as the season goes on, but Bartlett said, “My five seniors are my five starters.”


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