The Saratoga Sun -

Panthers basketball debuts at 1-2


The Saratoga Panthers boys basketball team went 1-2 in their hardwood debut over the weekend, notching a win against Moorcroft while falling short in games against Lingle-Fort Laramie and Shoshoni. Head coach Jason Williams saw a lot to like from his team’s inaugural effort however, and thinks his boys can go far as the team starts to cohere in the weeks to come.

“We played hard, we played good defense–there’s just a couple little things to tweak,” Williams said of the Panthers first weekend. Saratoga High School got things kicked off on Friday with a 47-38 W against Moorcroft. The day’s second effort was an imbalanced 56-42 loss against Shoshoni, however.

The weekend ended for the Panthers Saturday, with a 38-34 squeaker-loss to Laramie-Fort Lingle. “That Lingle game was one we sure could have won if little things had just happened differently,” Williams recollected.

The coach said some of his positive take-aways from the tournament include tough defense, and strong leadership from the team’s junior point guard, Gage Bartlett. “He plays hard and leads the team on the floor really well,” Williams said of Bartlett.

Williams said the weekend could easily have ended with two victories for the Panthers, and called the tournament “A really solid all-around effort. Everybody gave all they had.” Strong rebounding was also a factor in the Panthers’ defensive lockdown, he said.

The key for future Panther success, Williams said, will be crisper, cleaner and quicker offensive execution. “(Over the weekend) We were getting good shots–we just weren’t hitting them. In that way, the offense was working well, in that ‘we want to get the shot here,’ well we got it there. We just weren’t making them,” Williams said. His team was getting open and in good position, it just wasn’t getting the swish finish.

It’s a problem Williams said is “usually a fairly easy fix.” He plans on running a number of shooting drills in this week’s practices and thinks the rust will come off the shooting game pretty quickly.

The Panthers will need all their weapons in next weekend’s tournament in Shoshoni. Along with Dubois and Riverside, Saratoga will be facing #1-ranked Burlington Dec. 16, and Williams foresees a fierce competition. He said his team needs to work hard “not only on our shooting, but on our offensive execution all-around–passing, setting screens and everything.”

Williams said over the weekend he saw his Panthers make a few ill-advised passes that came a split-second too late. “We won’t be able to make mistakes like that against Burlington,” the coach noted.


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