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Panthers’ hoops program is in good hands

Middle Park poised to reload after graduating large number of seniors

Ethan Boeckers
Homegrown Talent Initiative
With a strong cast of younger players, Middle Park basketball has a bright future. On the Panthers JV boys team are, from left, back row, Ethan Ruttenberg, Alex Holinka, Dakota Davis, Matt Gosk, Caden Hanson, Ben Opatril, bottom row, Zane Martinez, Ethan Delay, Brady Paugh, TJ Tibbetts, Jack Nance, Trystan Bucar, and coach Michael Solomon, at far right.
Eli Pace / epace@skyhinews.com

As the Middle Park boys and girls basketball teams finished off the season against KIPP Denver on Saturday, the question remains what is next for these teams?

This is the last year of high school sports for many standout seniors on varsity, such as Mason Chamberlin, Katie Trail, Cameron Kirwan and others who will be graduating soon. That’s when the junior varsity and C teams come into play and are right behind and eagerly waiting to reload with plenty of firepower in the next few years.

Middle Park’s JV and freshmen vie for the ball during tipoff of a scrimmage on March 5 at MPHS. With a strong cast of underclassmen, the future looks bright for the Panthers hoops program.
Eli Pace / epace@skyhinews.com

The JV boys started a little slow with three losses, but the team has been on a hot streak, winning out for the rest of the season.



In one of their games, the Panthers faced off against Arrupe Jesuit. Going onto the final 10 seconds, the Generals were ahead by one point and sophomore Caden Hanson hit a buzzer-beating 3 to give the Panthers a 48-46 victory.

Along with Hanson, juniors Jack Nance and Trystan Bucar have been great leaders for this young team through this irregular season. The team has also gotten a new spark with freshman Ethan DeLay and leading scorer Brady Paugh while Matt Gosk helps tie the team together, adds some size and dominates under the rim.



Sophomore Corbin Solomon, who’s played varsity the last two years, and fellow first-year varsity player Ryan Bole will be familiar faces to see in the future of the program.

Even though the season has been punctuated by COVID-19 protocols, new JV coach Michael Solomon has brought excitement to the team as he works to create a perfect storm for success in his first season alongside brand new C team coach Jake Schmidt. Together, they have made leaps and bounds with this young team.

Middle Park sophomore Ellie Holinka drives the hoop as the Panthers girls JV team faces Moffat County on Feb. 5 at home. The varsity team is graduating a large number of seniors this year and will have to rely on the younger players to step into leadership roles next year.
Eli Pace / epace@skyhinews.com

On the girls’ side, the JV team is under the guidance of longtime Panther coach Sara Rector and features a star-studded roster with a strong sophomore core, including Ellie Holinka, Maddison Mullinex and Aida Hester.

After a tough loss to Moffat County on Feb. 24, the Panthers bounced back with a win against Plate Canyon just days later to cap off the season.

With lots of success and the emergence of great players, the path of Middle Park basketball looks bright and promising.

Ethan Boeckers is a sophomore at Middle Park High School. He is covering sports for the Sky-Hi News through the school’s Homegrown Talent Initiative.

 


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