By Mathew Brock

In their last non-league game of the season, the Panthers boys basketball team took on the Rogue River Chieftains again for a hard-fought 75-58 win, nearly identical to their first game of the season.

The win puts the Panthers at 7-5 overall for the season at rank No. 31 in the OSAA 2A rankings.

After taking a harsh 75-38 loss from Kennedy in the first round of the SAC Tournament and taking a second 56-48 loss against Sheridan, the Panthers turned things around with a solid 68-40 victory over Gervais in the final round. The Panthers then went on to defeat Harrisburg 51-43 in a non-league game the following week.

Though they prevailed by a fairly large margin, the Panther’s victory was a hard-fought one.

The Panthers stood nearly tied with the Chieftains at 18-17 in the first quarter, but managed to narrowly pull ahead in the second quarter, ending the half at 36-28.

The Chieftains kept pace with the Panthers, bringing the score up to 38-34 midway through the third quarter, but the Panthers managed to pull ahead to 54-43 going into the fourth. From there the Panthers many small gains began adding up until the clock ran out at 75-58.

The Panthers aggressive offense helped keep them ahead of the Chieftains, with a fast passing game and solid presence near the enemy hoop. However, the Panthers defensive coordination was lacking as they allowed the Chieftains to keep pace by missing several counterable plays, such as the Chieftains many uncontested long shots from the three-point line.

“I’m really pleased at how we’re doing on offense. We’re really moving the ball around and the plays are clicking,” said Coach Jay Trost. “But we have some details we need to clean up on the defensive end.”

According to Trost, while the Panthers are excelling offensively, they are working to better coordinate their defense to prevent some of the more easily counterable scores from happening.

Trost is excited to start league games against Toledo this week and feels confident about the Panther’s team dynamic moving forward.

“Defensive communication, rebounds and just taking care of the ball. Those are the details that end up deciding the close games,” said Trost.

“This is a group of kids who have been playing together since elementary school,” said Trost. “To see them going into league, the majority of them seniors and really starting to click and believe in each other to make the extra pass, it’s a real highlight for me.”