Granby: Panther hoopsters suffer curse of the second quarter | SkyHiNews.com

Granby: Panther hoopsters suffer curse of the second quarter

Will Bublitz
Sky-Hi Daily News

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News

So far, February has been a rough month for Middle Park High’s boys basketball team after it lost three games in succession to Denver Lutheran, Holy Family and Bishop Machebeuf.

The three-game losing streak began Saturday, Feb. 2, with a 69-43 trouncing by Denver Lutheran on the Panthers’ home court.

In the opening quarter, Middle Park’s hoopsters went basket for basket with Lutheran’s Lights and emerged from those eight minutes of play holding a 15-14 lead. But then the Panther offense dried up almost entirely in the second quarter as Lutheran surged into the lead 34-20 by halftime. In the second half, Middle Park could not get its offense back on track and continued to fall behind.

“We played a good first quarter, but then we fell apart in the second,” said coach Brian Reynolds. “We put ourselves in a bind and couldn’t get out.”

The Panthers’ leading scorer in the game against Lutheran was Zilvinas Sutkus with 12 points, followed by Ian Sutton and Jordan Reynolds with eight points each. In rebounds, Sam Damon led with eight while Sutkus picked up six. Damon also made three blocks.

Traveling to Broomfield on Thursday, Feb. 7, the Panthers hoped to do better against Holy Family’s Tigers. Although it was a much closer game, Middle Park lost again by a score of 65-54.

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After playing a strong first quarter that took them into the lead 17-11, the Panthers again lost momentum and allowed the Tigers to take over the lead in the second quarter 37-27.

“We played another strong first quarter, but then in the second, we made a couple of bad passes and a couple of bad decisions that got us down,” Reynolds said.

In the third quarter, Middle Park narrowed the gap to 48-40 but could not maintain their offensive drive going into the final quarter.

“We kept it close in the third quarter,” Reynolds said. “But in the fourth quarter, we scrambled and then got ourselves into foul trouble. Also our free throw shooting was not good. We made only six of 14, or 43 percent which did not help things.”

Sutton picked up his scoring in Thursday’s game, leading the team with 23 points. Jordan Reynolds was the next highest scorer with nine points.

“As a team, we did not do well in rebounds, except for Mike Schmidt who had 15 for the game,” Reynolds said. “We also really trailed off in the number of our steals.”

After the Holy Family game Thursday night, Middle Park’s team was forced to stay in the Denver area until Friday night because of the weather-related closures on I-70 and U.S. Highway 40 over Berthoud Pass. Once back home, the Panthers had to quickly get ready for the next day’s home game against Bishop Machebeuf.

The Panthers’ third game of the month last Saturday, Feb. 9, was their strongest showing. However, it ended in another defeat as they fell 58-55 to Machebeuf’s Buffaloes.

In the first quarter, Middle Park’s hoopsters put on an outstanding display of offense, taking a commanding 20-8 lead. But the drive once again petered out in the second quarter, as Machebeuf came back to narrow the Panthers’ lead to 27-26 by halftime.

By the end of the third quarter, the Buffaloes went into the lead by one point 45-44.

The Panthers were unable to catch them before time ran out in the fourth quarter.

“We lost another one, but it was a lot closer,” Reynolds said. “We outscored them in the first quarter. We then lost our momentum in the second, but still held the lead. And in the second half, we just did not come ready to play. Until we figure out what we’re doing wrong, especially in the second quarter of our games, we will continue to struggle.”

Sutkus was the Panthers’ high scorer against Machebeuf, racking up 24 points. Sutton was next with 11 points.

“What also killed us in that game was our free-throw shooting once again,” Reynolds said. “We made only 11 of 26. When you’re not hitting even 50 percent of your free throws as we have in our past two games, it’s very difficult to pull off a win.”

Evaluating the team’s performance in these past three games, coach Reynolds said the Panthers have to make some basic improvements.

“We do better in the first quarter because we are playing a fast, uptempo game,” he said. “But the other teams have scouted us and know that if they can slow us down and not allow us to get out and run like we like to do, we are not as effective. So in practice this week, we are concentrating on zone offense. And we’re also spending a lot of time practicing our free-throw shooting.”

The Panthers will travel to Kent Denver on Friday. The junior varsity game is at 5:30 p.m. with the varsity game following at 7 p.m.

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