Panther boys rebound for early season success on the court
January 1, 2019
Middle Park High School boy’s basketball players are preparing to return to the court this week as they look ahead towards the second half of the season.
The 2018-19 high school basketball season has been a solid one for the boys from Middle Park High School. After finishing the 2017-18 season with a lackluster record, winning only four games on the season, the boys from Middle Park have rebounded this year and, after seven games, their overall varsity record now stands at 5-2.
"They are doing great," said Jeff Ehlert, head coach for the Middle Park High School boys basketball team. "We could easily be undefeated right now but I think those loses, early on, are not as important as the games coming up."
The Panther boys got off to a slow start this year, losing their first two games by six and seven points respectively. Since their opening loses though the Panthers have been on a tear, winning their last five straight games before heading into Christmas break. While a couple of the games were blowouts, including a lopsided 64-25 contest against West Grand, several of the games have been very close, including a 49-47 win over Bayfield in early December.
Ehlert said he was happy with the performance of the young Panther men and highlighted the team's maturity this year.
"Last year our wins and losses were not what we expected or hoped for," Ehlert said. "Just being young and not having confidence, we were missing things like free throws. Now they have a lot more confidence. From when they walk onto the court to when it is a tight game at the end, it is night and day with the maturity level this year. This year they are finding ways to win the close ones."
Looking at the team as a whole Ehlert pointed to defense as the team's greatest strength along with "the tenacity we approach it with."
"When we play selfless basketball we are very hard to beat," Ehlert said. "But once in a while we get a little selfish with that ball. That is something I am pushing hard on for the remainder of the season, to keep running the offense and keep the ball moving. If we can do that I think most teams have a tough time beating us."
Overall, Middle Park's boy's basketball team has 28 players out this season with a large contingent of 11 freshmen. The team's varsity squad, which typically features around 10 players, is staffed with veteran athletes with every member of the squad having past experience playing at the varsity level. That dynamic is thanks in part to the relatively small number of seniors, three, who were lost at the end of last season.
For the remainder of the season Ehlert said he has confidence in his players but noted he does not like to look too far out ahead in terms of the game schedule.
"We are looking at it one game at a time," Ehlert said. "Our next game is against Jefferson so we are focused on that."
The basketball boys are set to return to the court in Granby this week to resume practices. Their first post-break game will come on Jan. 8 as the Jefferson Saints look to take on the Panthers at home, according to Ehlert. Ehlert said the Panthers are looking for a bit of redemption against the Saints who handedly defeated Middle Park last season. Ehlert said he feels confident that the Panthers will secure a win but added, "there are 19 days between the last game and this one, and you never know how you will come out of the long break."
Following their match against Jefferson the Panthers will have 12 more regular season games. Coach Elhert highlighted several as games to watch including contests against Arrupe Jesuit, on Jan. 26, The Academy, on Jan. 30 and an early February game against DSST Stapleton.
"We hope people come out and support us on our home games," Ehlert said.