Panthers teams play well but see seasons end on Saturday | SkyHiNews.com

Panthers teams play well but see seasons end on Saturday

Larry Banman
Sky-Hi Daily News Sports Correspondent
Grand County, CO Colorado

The Middle Park High School boy’s and girl’s basketball teams were both able to advance out of the preliminary rounds of post season play and compete last weekend at the Frontier League tournament at Jefferson High School in Denver.

The boys started post-season play last Wednesday in Granby with a 64-51 loss to Academy, but rebounded with a 55-47 win over Platte Canyon on Thursday. The team played well on Saturday against Pinnacle, but saw its season end with a 47-37 loss. The team was hampered by the loss of leading scorer Ross Eaton, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury in practice on the day before the tournament began.

The Lady Panthers lost to the Denver School of Science and Technology but were able to defeat Sheridan on Thursday, 46-37. That set up a game on Saturday with Academy. That game, Coach Cheri Amos-Helmicki said, brought out the best defensive effort her team has had all season. However, a tough first quarter put Middle Park in a hole from which it could not extract itself and the Panthers lost, 54-44.

In the boys game with Academy, the Panthers fell behind early and could never make up the difference. Middle Park was behind, 18-6, at the end of the first quarter and fought back to make it 31-27 at the end of the first half. Academy slowly pulled away in the third frame and then put the game away in the decisive fourth quarter.

Cort Brennan led Middle Park with 15 points and Jordan Reynolds scored 14 in the game.

That set up a Thursday night game with Platte Canyon. Coach Shawn McElroy noted that it was a good game for the Panthers. Freshman Johnny Stensvad led the team in scoring with 18 points with Reynolds and Brennan scoring 14 apiece.

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That victory set up a match with Pinnacle on Saturday. The leading scorer for Pinnacle led his team to a 32-20 halftime lead by scoring 19 points. Coach McElroy made a defensive adjustment and had Mark Schmidt and Adam Weaver share defensive duties on the Pinnacle marksman. The two completely shut down the Pinnacle leader and kept him from scoring in the second half.

The Panthers held Pinnacle to two points in the second quarter but, unfortunately, were unable to capitalize.

“We created turnovers and had lots of opportunities,” McElroy said. “We just couldn’t get the ball to fall in the hole. At the end of the game we had to get into the fouling game and we couldn’t quite hang with them.”

Brennan was the leading scorer again with 13 points and Reynolds added nine in his final game for Middle Park.

“I was proud of the boys this year,” McElroy said. “They did really well and came around strong at the end.”

Coach Amos-Helmicki was equally proud of her charges. “We finished 10-0 in our half of the league and the girls had their best season ever. I was happy with the way we played at the end. The kids also felt good about the way they played at the end and we only lose two seniors going into next season.”

Against Sheridan last Thursday, the two teams played evenly for a half and then Middle Park was able to put the game away in the final two frames. Moreya Gardner led the team in scoring with 15 points while Quincey Pedersen scored six, snared seven steals and grabbed 12 rebounds. Lihla Clancy scored eight points and McColl Linke had six points, five rebounds and had two steals.

In the final game of the season against Academy, the Panthers fell behind 18-7 after one quarter of play. “It was fast and furious,” Amos-Helmicki said, “and we were playing well. We just couldn’t get the ball to drop.”

Middle Park outscored Academy by one point the rest of the way, but just couldn’t make up the early difference.

Pedesen led the team in scoring with 15 points while Gardner added 13 points and four rebounds. Linke grabbed 10 rebounds and had two blocked shots. Amos-Helmicki was also impressed with the hustling play of sophomore Justine Bickler who scored seven points, had three rebounds, three assists and three steals.

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