Panthers get their licks in
Saratoga boys go 1-2 over weekend in Shoshoni tourney
December 22, 2021
The Saratoga Panthers were off to a tough start for basketball season with a 1-2 weekend as they finally were able to get time on the hardwood.
Though the Panthers had been slated to compete in the Carbon County Classic, winter weather prevented the local tourney from taking place. Old Man Winter gave Wyoming a reprieve on December 17, allowing Saratoga to compete in Shoshoni’s Wrangler Invite. While there, they took on the Shoshoni Wrangler, the Dubois Rams and the Upton Bobcats.
“Overall it was a good weekend for us,” said Head Coach Jason Williams. “We really needed to get on the court and play some quality varsity teams and that is exactly what we got. We have a lot of guys who haven’t had much, if any, varsity experience so just getting time on the court and improving game to game was our primary focus in Shoshoni.”
Wranglers vs. Panthers
The first game for Saratoga was against the hosting Wranglers, who play in the 2A Northwest Conference. Despite the higher conference, the Panthers were able to keep the score close to Shoshoni.
“Playing the first game against the host team on their home court was a great opportunity for us to get our first game jitters out, and we did,” Williams said. “It was a game that we ultimately lost 55-51, but we got better.”
Though narrowly losing by four points to the Wranglers, a number of Williams’ players had a chance to get into the stat book. Grady Bartlett led Saratoga with 22 points against Shoshoni and was followed by JD Buttle with 10 points. Grant Bartlett and Geoffrey Johnson both followed with 6 points.
Rams vs. Panthers
“Our next game was against Dubois, who figures to be one of the top teams in the West this year, and the state,” said Williams.
Getting their first game jitters out with the Wranglers, Saratoga was able to do better against the Rams, who are in the 1A Northwest Conference. The Panthers were able to secure a final score of 64-52 over Dubois for their first win of the season.
“We came out more confident in this game and were able to prevail,” Williams said. “One of the big differences in this game than the night before was that we were able to hold our lead in the second half and put the game away.”
Playing against the Rams, Grant Bartlett took the lead in scoring with a total of 19 points. Grady Bartlett, Kelton Johnson and G. Johnson followed with 10 points and Buttle scored 8 points.
Bobcats vs. Panthers
The final game of the weekend for Saratoga was against the team which dealt them a significant loss the season before. Upton, the defending 1A State Champions, had squared off with the Panthers in Casper and won their first state championship in school history. Saratoga, meanwhile, had returned home as 1A State Runner Ups.
“This was a great opportunity for us to grow and get better,” said Williams. “We came out pretty timid, maybe even intimidated, and Upton built a 28 point halftime lead. But I couldn’t be more proud of how the boys fought back.”
While the Panthers had been able to cut the lead down to just 10 points, the Bobcats ultimately dealt a 66-54 loss to Saratoga.
Grant Bartlett was the lead scorer against Upton with 20 points. Grady Bartlett and Buttle followed with 9 points while G. Johnson and K. Johnson each scored 5 points.
Following their weekend at the Wrangler Invite, the Saratoga Panthers are 1-2 for the season. The upcoming Christmas break gives Saratoga some time to practice before their first conference game as they host their Valley rivals, the Encampment Tigers.
The Panthers will host the Tigers at 4 p.m. on January 7, 2022 at Saratoga Middle High School.