The Saratoga Sun -

Panthers dispatch Rattlers

Saratoga boys beat LSRV 65-60, enter regional tournament as No. 2 seed


February 26, 2020

Joshua Wood

Saratoga's Menphis Smith takes to the air as he attempts a shot against the Little Snake River Valley Rattlers on Friday at the Panther Den.

The Saratoga Panthers will be entering the 1A West Regional Tournament as the No. 2 seed this year, a vast improvement from the season before where they were denied entry following a loss to the Little Snake River Valley (LSRV) Rattlers during a pigtail play-in game. 

On February 21, the Rattlers (12-9, 3-5) attempted to deal a home game heartbreaker to Saratoga. Despite what seemed to be a slow start for the Panthers, they would ultimately overcome the lead that LSRV had and add a final conference win before the end of the regular season.

"We knew that it was going to be a tough game and they were going to come out ready to try to ruin the night for us," said Jason Williams, head coach for the Panthers. "I'm just super proud of the boys. It was a physical game and they really stepped up and they played hard."

The first eight minutes of the matchup between Saratoga and Baggs saw the Rattlers lead by four points and continue that lead as they went into the 2nd quarter. With only seconds left in the 1st half of the game, it looked as if the Panthers would go into half-time tied with LSRV. Getting into foul trouble, however, put the Rattlers at the free-throw line and allowed them a single point lead at the half, 30-31.

"Hats off to Baggs," Williams said. "They're a good team and they play hard and they play fast. It was a really good game for us."

By the end of the 3rd quarter, Saratoga managed to get ahead of the Rattlers with a 6 point lead. In the 4th quarter, however, LSRV would work to close that gap and tie the game 52-52 with 4:33 left. As the Rattlers lost two of their own to foul trouble, the writing began to appear on the wall.

With two starters down, including Baggs senior Riggen Myers, the Panthers were able to maintain their lead throughout the rest of the 4th quarter. As the buzzer sounded, Saratoga was able to claim victory over the Rattlers with a final score of 65-60.

Junior Teegan Love scored 21 points and had 10 rebounds against LSRV and was followed by junior Gavin Bartlett with 13 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Senior Menphis Smith scored 11 points and had 10 rebounds, senior Logan Seahorn scored 8 points and junior Noah Rimmer scored 8 points and had 10 rebounds.

With the regular season at a close, the Panthers are now preparing for the regional tournament. Joining Saratoga from the 1A Southwest Conference will be the Encampment Tigers, the Farson-Eden Pronghorns and either the Rattlers of the Cokeville Panthers following a pigtail play-in on Tuesday evening.

"Regionals is going to be tough," said Williams. "We're going to have four teams from our conference and they're all good, they're all solid, and then St. Stephens from the northwest. There's going to be five solid teams there, but only four can make it to state. So we're going to have to come ready to play."

While the Panthers got a second win against Baggs, Williams says there will be some things to work on before heading to the regional tournament.

"There's some things we do need to clean up. I felt like our defensive rotations were a little bit slow and they had some inside passes we'll need to shut down," Williams said. "We'll focus a lot on that, on cleaning up some of the defense and the rebounding."

Following the win against LSRV, Saratoga is 14-3 for the season and 5-3 in conference play.

Saratoga will begin the 1A West Regional Tournament by facing the No. 3 1A Northwest Burlington Huskies at 2 p.m. on Thursday at the Auxiliary Gym at Lander High School.


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