Lady Panthers '3W' weekend

‘Toga girls net wins vs. Panthers, Huskies and Rams


After putting in a shaky effort to start the season 0-3 earlier in the month, the Saratoga Panthers girls’ basketball team sent a strong message to the world of Wyoming high school athletics over the weekend. In notching three double-digit December Ws against Riverside, Burlington and Dubois at a tournament in Thermopolis, the Panthers declared themselves no longer-declawed.

“(The girls) had a really good weekend,” coach Heather Bartlett said of the team’s effort Monday. Pride was evident in her voice even over a staticky cell-phone line. “We came out and ran (the other teams) a lot,” she said of the Panthers’ season-evening effort.

For the Saratoga Panthers, action kicked off Dec. 15 against another Panther team, this one originating in Basin, Wyo. The match ended with the Saratoga Panthers having put up 48 points to Basin’s 30. Bartlett said strong rebounding and more confident shooting were key factors in the fight for top-Panther honors.

In the match, senior Meredith Lincoln was responsible for more than half of the team’s total points, ending the day with 25. Twenty-six team rebounds, 10 coming from senior Katie Loose ,helped keep the game out of reach as did 15 team steals.

The next afternoon, against Burlington, the Panthers repeated their victory margin of the day before, winning in convincing fashion 38-20 against the Huskies. Despite scoring fewer points than the day prior, Saratoga’s shut-down defense kept the score in the cat vs. dog match-up firmly in the felines’ favor.

Loose pulled down 11 of the Panthers’ 21 total rebounds against the Huskies Dec. 16, and the team had 10 steals as well.

Bartlett said that in addition to heightened intensity from her girls, a solid week of practice helped the team overcome some early-season jitters. “We worked on some things in practice over the week and (the girls) were able to apply those things on the court,” Bartlett said. Shooting drills and repeatedly running the team’s offensive schemes may have contributed to the strong outcomes in the coach’s view.

The last game of the weekend also proved to be the most challenging, Bartlett said. “The toughest team we played was Dubois,” Bartlett recalled, and she said the Panthers went into the locker room at half down to the opposing Rams Dec. 17.

“I told (the girls), ‘you can either come out and win or fall apart and let them win.’”

Apparently, the steely message had an effect: the Panthers returned to court fired-up and ultimately won the game by a comfortable 52-39 margin. Against Dubois, Bartlett said Saratoga had some difficulty winning rebounds but made up for the deficiency with 15 steals.

Overall, the Panther girls “were able to space themselves a lot better and make better shots,” Bartlett described the difference between the Shoshoni tournament and one hosted in Burns a week before.

Whatever the cause, the Panthers seem to be a team headed into the holidays on a hot streak. Bartlett said she has scheduled several open gym sessions her athlete’s can use to stay sharp, and that she is already thinking about the team’s next contest Jan. 7 against Hanna-Elk Mountain.

“(That game) will sneak right up after break,” Bartlett said. There’s little chance it will catch Bartlett, or her team, unprepared though.


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