The Rugby Panthers are in the state tournament for the second straight season, and they have goals of winning it all.
“It feels great, last year we didnt get to go and this year we wanted to prove everyone wrong and prove to them that we can go again so we’re pretty fired up and ready to go,” says Senior Guard Warren Walker.
The Rugby Panthers are back in the big dance after overcoming injuries this year. Despite the bad luck, Head Coach Mike Santjer says it’s a blessing in disguise.
“We kind of went through some things but it was good because we had some kids step up, that didn’t get as much playing time and so now our bench is a little deeper, and we trust those kids coming in,” says Santjer.
“It was really awesome that we could have some younger guys step up in really fill positions especially when Isiah was hurt and coming back after that,” says Senior Guard Tim Mueller. “Eric put in some good minutes and so did Brody and it’s going to help out our team in the future.”
The Panthers are only one of two teams to not beat the other qualifying teams this season, but they aren’t hitting the panic button.
“We’re just using that as motivation to finally beat those guys and keep moving on in the tournament, they beat us last time and we’re going to have to come back and and play harder this time and finally win,” says Mueller.
Rugby has a first-round date with Edgeley and they believe an up-tempo play style will be key to a win.
“We got to make sure that we don’t turn the ball over and push the tempo, I think we can play a little bit faster and if we can get them to kind of play at the speed that we want, I think that’s a benefit for us,” says Coach Sanjter
The Panthers feel their grit and determination will carry them to a deep postseason run.
“Our Effort and intensity is definitely going to be the part of it, those teams at state, that’s top-notch and those are the good teams that you want to be playing,” says Walker. “So I feel like if we just really keep up our defensive energy up, we will be alright.”
“If we play hard defense then we can play hard offense, if we don’t take a break on offense then we’re not going to take a break on defense,” says Mueller.