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Panthers prep for final home game

Senior basketball players from Middle Park High School. From left to right: Katrina Quinn, Douglas Dean, Brooke Bowman, Avery Steinberg, Mallory Milstead, Ryan Jones, Holly Tehan, Brad Lutz, Reilly Weimer, Brandon Wyle, Madiosn Milstead and Chance Martin (seated).
Courtesy Photo |

As the 2016 school year draws to a close senior students throughout the nation find themselves gripped by both excitement and apprehension.

For student athletes at Middle Park High School (MPHS) those feelings are even more complicated as they prepare for their last basketball home game of the Panther’s 2016 regular season on Tuesday Feb. 16. The Sky-Hi News sat down recently with four senior student athletes to discuss the season and what kind of emotions they are experiencing as they prepare for the final high school basketball games of their lives.

“It is saddening,” said Mallory Milstead a senior point guard for the Panthers.

“Finally getting out last game is an eye opener.”

Her sentiments were echoed by boys forward Brad Lutz.

“It is exciting but also depressing,” Lutz said. “For me it feels like the season just started and it has gone by so quickly. I know everyone says that but before you know it we are at the last game.”

Senior Avery Steinberg was experiencing similar feelings.

“It tough,” Steinberg said. “It actually just hit me the other night that we could only have a couple games left.”

The impact of the final home game for the Panthers weighs especially heavy on the boys team as they work to secure a playoff berth. For the lady Panther’s though, who are undefeated so far this season, the final home game is a prelude to further post-season efforts.

For senior girl Holly Tehan the focus on success in the post-season has taken a bit of the edge off the emotional impact of the final regular season home game.

“I’m feeling anxious,” Tehan said. “I’m a senior and it is all coming to an end. But right now our team is undefeated and I’m really nervous about the fact that we want to keep the undefeated record and be league champs.”

Senior students stand on the cusp of adulthood as they prepare to enter their college careers or the workforce. For many that is a daunting concept but the student athletes from Middle Park explained how their experiences in sports have helped prepare them for future challenges.

“I think in high school sports you learn to deal with loss,” said Avery Steinberg. “We have taken a couple of hard losses. It has been tough to just shake it off and move on but I can a see a difference over the years. Sports teaches you how to experience a tough loss and be able to shake it off and move on.”

For Brad Lutz sports provided a source of inspiration and passion. “If you are doing something you love it teaches you to be passionate about something,” he said. “Each game you try to do as much as you can.”

For Lady Panther Mallory Milstead athletics taught her that success takes tremendous work.

“It shows if you want something you have to work for it,” Milstead said. “We have got to go to practice every day to work towards that one goal.”

Holly Tehan explained she gained leadership experience from sports and also spent time learning how to work with others. “You have to communicate with your team,” Tehan said. “You have to learn how to work with your team and build off of what they can do and what you can do as well.”

When the final buzzer sounds at the end of their last game the student athletes know they will be flooded with emotions.

“There will be tears shed,” said Avery Steinberg. “It is going to be a real shocker,” said Mallory Milstead. For Holly Tehan the end of high school basketball means the end of something that has partially defined her life throughout high school.

“When the final buzzer goes off I’m going to be upset,” said Tehan. “Basketball has been a passion for me all the years I’ve been growing up. It will be upsetting to me to realize that if I don’t get to play on (in college) it will not be there for me as much as it was before.”

“What I will miss the most is just having that release after a busy day,” said Mallory Milstead. “It is like an escape.” Milstead said she will also dearly miss the feeling of comradery she derived by being a member of a team.

Brad Lutz said what he will miss most from high school athletics is the sense of brotherhood created amongst his teammates. “You build a family over all four years that you play,” he said. “It is something you can’t understand unless you are in it,” added Avery Steinberg.

All of the students mentioned they would miss the competitiveness of high school athletics and the sense of joy and pride derived from winning. The senior athletes expressed their thanks to those who supported and instructed them during their time on the court. Both Steinberg and Lutz thanked former Middle Park basketball coach James Newberry. Mallory Milstead thanked former coach Cheri Amos while Holly Tehan thanked all of her coaches and teammates with a special thank you to her father.

“He has been my rock,” she said.

“We are pretty much a family,” Tehan said. “We are always pushing through the hard times. No matter what we are always a team and I’m very thankful to have my teammates.”

The Panther’s last home game of the regular season for 2016 will be held at Middle Park High School on Tuesday Feb. 16. with games beginning at 5:30 p.m.


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