Panthers tear their way to State

Saratoga goes 2-1 at regional tournament, secures No. 2 West seed for Casper


Photo courtesy Mary Martin

Saratoga's Teegan Love (11) makes his way past a player from St. Stephens during the semifinal round at the 1A West Regional Tournament in Lander.

The Saratoga Panthers are on their way to the 1A State Tournament following a successful weekend in Lander where they dealt losses to the Burlington Huskies and the St. Stephens Eagles before a nail-biting championship round with Valley rivals, the Encampment Tigers. By the end of the weekend, the Panthers would secure their spot as the No. 2 seed for the West as they head to Casper.

Panthers vs. Huskies

Starting the weekend, Saratoga faced the No. 3 Northwest Huskies. Last year, Burlington was able to make it to the State Tournament and eventually send the Hanna, Elk Mountain, Medicine Bow Miners home with two losses. This year, the Huskies won't be making an appearance in Casper following a loss to two sets of Panthers; Saratoga and Cokeville.

"We came out a little sluggish against Burlington in our first game and their zone defense seemed to bother us," said Jason Williams, head coach of the Panthers. "We struggled getting going offensively but we started playing better in the second half and got into more of a rhythm. It was good to get the first tournament game under our belt."

Teegan Love led Saratoga against the Huskies with 20 points and 5 assists. Following Love was Noah Rimmer, who scored 12 points and had 12 rebounds. Senior Logan Seahorn scored 11 points, Gavin Bartlett scored 7 points and senior Menphis Smith scored 6 points and had 7 rebounds.

The Saratoga Panthers won their first game at regionals with a 7 point lead and sent the Huskies to the consolation bracket, where they suffered a second loss to Cokeville.

The final score was 58-51.

Panthers vs. Eagles

After the sluggish start and rhythmic finish to their game against Burlington, Saratoga advanced to the semi-final rounds where they took on the No. 1 Northwest Eagles. 

"The St. Stephens game was one of the best games of the year for us," Williams said. "We knew they were going to bring pressure and the boys did a great job of handling the pressure and passing through it. St. Stephens was the team we were probably the least familiar with heading into regionals, so this was a great win to get under our belt and was the one we were wanting."

After being sent to the consolation bracket by the Panthers, St. Stephens took out the Dubois Rams and fell to Farson-Eden in the consolation finals to enter the 1A State Tournament as the No. 4 seed in the West.

Love was again the leader for the Panthers, scoring 26 points against the Eagles. Love also had 5 assists. Following Love was Seahorn, who scored 18 points and had 5 rebounds. Rimmer scored 17 points and had 10 rebounds, Smith scored 9 points and had 9 rebounds and 5 assists. Bartlett scored 9 points and had 4 assists.

The final score was 81-62.

Panthers vs. Tigers

In the regular season, the only loss that Encampment had been dealt was by the Panthers. Going into the Championship Round, this was arguably the game to watch.

"The Encampment game was a fun game and I think it was very entertaining for the folks in the stands. It really was a back and forth game and I thought both teams played well and with class," said Williams. "The teams represented the Valley very well, both with their integrity and with how well they played the game. With any luck, we will get a chance to do it again Saturday night."

Facing the Tigers, Love scored 27 points and had 6 rebounds. Following Love, Smith scored 12 points and had 8 rebounds while Rimmer scored 12 points and had 5 rebounds. Seahorn scored 9 points and had 5 rebounds and Bartlett had 5 assists and 4 rebounds.

Trailing by just two points to Encampment, the final score for the Panthers was 64-66.

Having started out with the goal of wanting to prove something, Saratoga has continued to appear to do just that as they have gone from barely missing a spot in the regional tournament last season to going all the way to the Championship Round in Lander this season. 

The Panthers will be able to get another chance to prove something as they head to Casper on Thursday for the 1A State Tournament. Their first match will be against the Kaycee Buckaroos, who come into the tournament as the No. 3 East seed.

Saratoga will face the Buckaroos at 7:30 p.m. on March 5 at the Casper Events Center.


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