The Saratoga Sun -

Panthers stay undefeated

Saratoga deftly beats Encampment


February 2, 2023

Virginia Paker

Deke Herring goes for the shot while surrounded by Gunner Knotwell and Ryon Miller. Calvin Condict, and Arthur Columbus assist.

The weather canceled a lot of games this past week for teams in Carbon County, but there was one game which was played on January 28 that had the Saratoga High School Panther basketball team stay undefeated.

It was an important game to the Panthers according to head basketball coach Jason Williams, because it was a conference game.

"That is our focus right now," Williams said. "To win every conference game we can, to get the best possible seed for the postseason."

Williams said the Panther team came to the Encampment Tiger's home court ready to play.

"We played well, which is sometimes hard to do in that gym," Williams said. "We have had some battles there. Last year we won handily at our home court and when we came to their court we only won by a point or two. So we knew we couldn't take the game lightly because it is a conference and the Tigers are well coached and a team to respect. The boys listened."

The Panther team listened so well, at the end of the 1st quarter, the score 19 to 2 in favor of Saratoga.

Williams said he was especially happy with a couple players.

"Finn Rolseth shot the ball really well and I felt that Deke Herring had his best game of the year so far," Williams said. "Deke is not a flashy guy, but I have said for a couple years now, he is just a player that doesn't make many mistakes and seems to always be in the right place at the right time. He is a really dependable player and I love coaching him and it was good to see some shots go in that he makes at practice all the time."

Williams is aware that by being 13-0 in the season and 5-0 in the conference, there is a target on the back of the Panther team. 

"We didn't get to play Southeast this week because of the weather, but I know that team is really working hard to be that team which takes us down," Williams said. "But our focus is beating teams in our conference and not worrying so much about a team that isn't in our conference."

The focus paid off as the Panthers went into half-time with a 30 point lead and finished the game 64 to 21.

Williams said a crucial conference game is coming up next against Little Snake River Valley (LSRV). The Rattlers went to Saratoga a couple weeks back and lost by one point. This time the Panthers will face LSRV on the Rattlers home court.

"We play LSRV on Saturday and I know it will be a tough game because Jack (Cobb) is a good coach," Williams said "I would be rooting for him, just like I do for Jake (Johnston) and Cliff (Jones) when we aren't playing them. They are good guys and fun to coach against because they are going to try and bring their best game when facing us."

Williams acknowledges there are some players and fans who are hoping the team goes undefeated this season, but this is not his focus.

Virginia Paker

Kaben Pickett looking for someone to pass the ball to while being blocked by Heston Fisher 

"I try to remind the boys that being undefeated has never been a primary goal at the beginning of the season and it is not a primary goal now," Williams said. "It is great if it becomes the by-product of our real goal of beating teams in our conference. But I don't want us changing horses in order to make being undefeated our goal now. Our goal is to just win conference games and get a real high seeding for the regional tournament."

He said when the season is over, then the team can reflect on their wins.

"After the season, and we reflect on it, especially the seniors, we realize this was a special team and is a special team," Williams said. "I don't want us to get focused on that now, I want us to stay focused on getting better each game. Hopefully when the season ends, we will look back and see how special this team is."


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