Granby " Middle Park boys end season with 8-11 record | SkyHiNews.com

Granby " Middle Park boys end season with 8-11 record

Will Bublitz
Sky-Hi Daily News

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News

Last week was the end of the trail for Middle Park High’s boys basketball team as it finished up the regular season with a loss and then was knocked out of post-season play by a defeat in the district playoffs.

The Panthers ended their 2007-08 regular season with a 73-24 trouncing by Faith Christian in a home game Tuesday, Feb. 19. The Eagles are the No. 1 ranked team in the state.

“It was an ugly affair,” said coach Brian Reynolds. “We knew our only chance was to keep the ball out of their hands, but even the best laid plans go awry.”

In the first quarter, the Panthers’ game plan quickly fell apart as Faith Christian jumped to a huge 28-2 lead. Middle Park did not do much better in the second as the Eagles raised the points spread to 52-10 by halftime.

“Instead of going with the plan, we tried to play our normal fast-paced game, but Faith Christian made us pay for that,” Reynolds said. “Over halftime, I told the guys that our chances of coming back from a 42-point deficit were slim and none. It was time to limit our losses and go back to our original plan for the game which was to play slow and methodical, and try to keep the ball out of Faith’s hands.”

The plan achieved some success as the Panther defense slowed the Eagles’ assault upon their basket. It kept the score to 63-19 by the end of the third quarter.

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“We began to take over the tempo of the game,” Reynolds said. “Our defense was awesome. Our guys began to realize that if we controlled the ball, we could limit Faith’s scoring. We also played a controlled offense, walking the ball up the court to not just make any kind of a shot, but to really make good shots that scored.”

In the fourth quarter, Middle Park continued to stick to that game plan, which succeeded in preventing a total blowout.

“My goal was not to allow Faith Christian to make 100 points, which they had gotten close to in the past,” Reynolds said. “Although we only earned 24 points, we still limited their scoring.”

Zilvinas Sutkus led the Panthers in scoring with 13 points, followed by Mike Schmidt with seven points.

Reynolds had special praise for the play of Middle Park senior D.J. Pritt, who started and played all four quarters.

“If I were to pick an MVP for that game, D.J. would be it,” he said. “He did such an awesome job that it’s shame on me that I didn’t give him more playing opportunities this season. He kept Faith’s big guys to only looks at the basket and made four rebounds.”

On Saturday, Feb. 23, Middle Park’s hoopsters traveled to Denver to play Colorado Academy in the district championships’ first round. The Panthers lost the game by a lopsided score of 61-31.

“We took another one on the chin,” Reynolds said. “What really messed us up was the first quarter where we were outscored 23-3. We were just out of sync the whole day with all five of our starters eventually fouling out of the game.”

By halftime, the Panthers were down 43-14 and were unable to get back into the game in the second half.

Sutkus was once again the team’s high scorer with 13 points. Ian Sutton, who was one of the Panthers’ top scorers this season, was held to only four points.

“Colorado Academy did a good job of keeping the ball away from Ian who normally averages 16 points a game,” Reynolds said. “Zilvinas also did well in rebounding, making six for the game. And D.J. Pritt played another good game, making five rebounds, which was awesome.”

Saturday’s loss in the district’s first round ended Middle Park’s season. The Panthers posted an 8-11 record for the 2007-08 regular season and ended up last in the Metro League.

“It was disappointing because we started the season with such high hopes, expecting to end in the top half of our conference,” Reynolds said. “Unfortunately, we lost three of our starters over the course of the season. On the good side, all of our varsity, JV and C-team players showed improvement and growth. We hope to get back to our winning ways next season.

“The awesome thing is that we have a core of guys who will be returning next season with a lot of varsity experience,” Reynolds said. “We now have six underclassmen who already have two years of varsity playing. And this summer, we’ll be doing everything we can with team and individual skill camps to get ready for next season.”

Also next school year, the Panthers will be leaving the Metro League and joining the Frontier League. That league includes teams such as Bennett, Academy, Sheridan, Clear Creek, Arupe Jesuit, Platte Canyon, Denver Academy and Jefferson High School.

“We are leaving the Metro League where there was a lot of private schools,” Reynolds said. “In the Frontier League, we’ll be playing against public schools that are a lot more like us.”

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