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Aggies snap Panther win streak
February 2, 2018

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Going into Tuesday evening's home matchup, the Rugby Panthers were on a seven-game winning streak.

That streak was snapped Tuesday evening with a 52-42 loss to the Velva Aggies.

Both teams were bit by the turnover bug early in a first quarter battle of attrition, one that ended with a 5-5 score for both teams.

"[The Aggies] really did a good job of slowing down the tempo, I think that was definitely their gameplan," said Panthers head coach Mike Santjer. "They kind of took us out of our transition, which, kudos to them, they did a great job of that."

However, the Panthers were the process of what would later be a 13-3 run that went into the first two minutes of the second quarter, which allowed them to take the lead.

Their hold on the lead would be tenuous, as Aggie forwards Ethan Schepp and Hunter Brabandt would go on a combined 10-point tear. Three-pointers from Panther forward Jaden Hamilton and guard Trace Goven put the Panthers ahead 19-18 going into halftime.

The Panthers and the Aggies were almost neck and neck to start the third quarter. However missed buckets at trips to the foul line saw the Panthers behind by one point to end the quarter.

The Aggies' lead started to grow early in the fourth on a couple of buckets from Schepp. Guard Kevin Vetsch had a rebuttal from the Panthers from beyond the arc. Two other Panthers forward Brock Haakenson and guard Landen Foster would later get three-pointers as well.

However, the fourth quarter would also see a pair of Aggies guard Seth Fahy and forward Hayden Lee be sent to the charity stripe on multiple trips.

"The biggest thing is we have to go back to, even when they slow down the tempo we really want to push the ball up the floor quicker," Santjer said. "We just kind of settled, and I think by settling we became not very aggressive."

The Panthers' streak began Jan. 6 with an 87-44 win against the Harvey-Wells County Hornets. It continued to last week with a 97-40 win against the Towner-Granville-Upham Titans in Towner and a 74-62 win against the Lewis & Clark-Berthold Bombers at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.

The Panthers quickly cruised to a commanding lead early against the Titans, ending the first quarter with a 27-8 scoring output. That would soon grow into a 53-21 lead by halftime, followed by an 80-31 lead at the end of the third, and a 97-40 win.

"We got in the passing lanes, we got out and got some easy buckets, got some layups rolling," said Santjer. "Everybody was feeling pretty good and when this group of guys is feeling good about it, shots just seem to fall."

The next day in Minot saw the Panthers behind 9-4 early against the Bombers. However the Panthers would retake the lead on a 15-2 run and would be ahead 30-16 at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter saw Rugby continue to hold a lead over Berthold, with the score 45-32 at halftime. The Panthers continued to hold pace, going on a 9-1 run early in the third quarter. The fourth quarter saw the Bombers go on a 9-2 run early, however the Panthers would win 74-62.

"They're [the Bombers] a little different team than they normally are, but they have some really good players," Santjer said. "We were just able to knock down shots that night."

The Panthers traveled to Drake on Friday to take on the Drake-Anamoose Raiders in another District 11 matchup. This coming Tuesday the Panthers will host the Four Winds-Minnewaukan Indians.

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