Middle Park hoop teams dominate at home
Sky-Hi News Intern
Playing for the home crowd is always an advantage when you are an athlete, and this week, the Middle Park Panthers boys and girls basketball teams demonstrated by posting strong wins in Tuesday’s home games against the KIPP Tigers.
For the Lady Panthers, the week’s action began with a rough start. Middle Park lost its first league game to The Academy on Saturday while visiting the wildcats. The Panthers’ 46-25 loss to The Academy was a difficult one to overcome and required a lot of mental toughness from the team to move past and look on to the next game.
A different Panther team showed up for the game against the Tigers onTuesday night. The team was a dominating force, holding KIPP to just four points in the entire game. The 46-4 victory helped the Lady Panthers improve their overall record to 2-5 and their league record to 1-1.
“Saturday was rough. The girls played much smoother, much more confident, and they played stronger at home than they did before,” said Head coach Diane Bickler.
The panthers dramatically improved their turnover percentage from 46 against the Wildcats to just 13 against the Tigers on Tuesday.
“I have 11 girls on varsity and 11 equal players. Some may have a few more miles than others, but they all have potential to be a great team if they play as a unit,” Coach Bickler added.
It has been a much more productive year for the Middle Park boys than it was a year ago. With an important win on Saturday and another win on Tuesday, the boys team has proved they have control in the Frontier League.
Saturday’s game against the Wildcats proved to be a productive game for most. Junior Ryan Jones came away from the game with a double-double after acquiring 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Panthers. Other notable contributions came from sophomores Jordan Ehlert and Nojus Bilevicius, who came away with 7 points and 4 rebounds and 8 points and 5 rebounds, respectively.
“The Academy win carried enough importance that it set the tone for the second half of the season,” said Head coach James Newberry. “Playing such a strong team coming off of Christmas break was a great challenge for us.”
The other major victory for the boys during Saturday’s game went to defenders Douglas Dean and Chance Martin. The two were able to hold The Academy’s Devan Caswell to just 5 points. Caswell entered the game as the league’s leading scorer, averaging 20 points per game. The final score was close, but Middle Park was able to pull ahead at the end of the game to win 47-39.
The good news for the boys was that they won their second league game on Tuesday. The bad news is they played down to the level of their opponent.
“There was a lack of concentration going into the game against KIPP and that translated into our multiple turnovers, which allowed them to remain close throughout the game,” Coach Newberry said of Tuesday’s win.
“As we grow and mature as a team, the way the players learn to handle those types of situations [is] through common practice,” Coach Newberry added.
The Panthers won the game against KIPP 61-47 and improved their overall record to 6-3 as well as remaining undefeated in the league.
The Panthers’ next games will take place on Friday, Jan. 23, at Middle Park beginning at 5:30 p.m.
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Due to current public health guidance, there will not be an in-person wilderness campsite lottery for Rocky Mountain National Park this year.