On a night when experienced leadership proved to be vital, a couple of sophomores stole the show for the Panthers. After the visiting Harper Longhorns jumped out to a 14-8 first quarter lead on a three at the buzzer, David Ramirez had seen enough. Ramirez went 4-for-6 from the field for the night, but his greatest contribution came on the defensive end of the floor, where he locked down Harper’s leading scorer. Limited to a handful of touches, the Longhorn had five points for the night, but only two after Ramirez entered the game. Not to be outdone by his classmate, Kyle Sauceda ripped down 15 rebounds for the night, with 11 coming in the second half.
Upon Ramirez’ entrance into the game, the Panthers took over in the second quarter. Ramirez hit a couple of shots to narrow the Longhorn lead, and threw in an assist for good measure to junior Ian Ray on the play that gave the Panthers the lead for good at 15-14. For the quarter, the Panthers outscored Harper 16-2 to take a 23-14 lead into the half.
The third quarter was more back-and-forth, as foul trouble forced the Panthers into a four-guard lineup for a short time. In the fourth, Harper senior and fourth-year starter Reagan Randle tried to rally his team, with nine points in the second half. Every time the Longhorns looked poised to grab control of the game, however, the Panthers fought them back. Besides Ramirez’ defense and Sauceda grabbing caroms, the older Panthers began to exert themselves. Ray had a big block of a three attempt in the corner. Senior Tanner Rogers deflected a pass to junior Sam Isenberg, who flipped the ball ahead to Rogers, whose two-hand slam was averted only by a Harper foul. Rogers was 7-for-8 at the free throw line down the stretch, icing the win for the Panthers 44-34. The game marked the fourth time in six district games in which the Panthers have held its opponent to 35 points or less.
The win for the Panthers clinches a playoff spot. Blanco can finish no worse than second, but could still win the outright district title. The Panthers are off Tuesday, and play at Junction on Friday, with the showdown in Ingram coming on Valentine’s Tuesday.
For the third time this season, the Blanco Panthers knocked off the Comfort Bobcats. The visiting Bobcats played well for much of the game, but the talent of the Panthers eventually won the day, as Blanco used a 21-2 fourth quarter run to pull away from Comfort 64-35.
The game began with both teams running-and-gunning. In the first quarter alone, sophomore David Ramirez had six points, fellow sophomore Kyle Sauceda had nine, and junior Sam Isenberg had 4 assists. However, Comfort was also prolific offensively, and aided by several transition buckets, they were also rolling. The Panthers had the lead after one, 23-17, but it wasn’t a comfortable one. When the Panthers pulled out of the press, its offensive output suffered, but it also put the brakes on any hopes the Bobcats had of stealing the upset. The post trio of junior Ian Ray, Sauceda, and junior Quinn Dillard grabbed hold of the game, leading the Panthers to a 39-26 halftime lead.
The third quarter was marked by sloppy and lethargic play by both teams. Neither got much going offensively, and the Panthers maintained their lead at 43-33. The Panthers came alive in the fourth, however. Senior Tanner Rogers bid farewell one last time to the Bobcat crowd, as his three right in front of their crowd got them to start collecting their things and heading for the exits. For his career, Rogers finishes at 7-1 against Comfort in varsity basketball competition. The sophomores took over the scoring and did not let up in garbage time, as Brett Champion, Sauceda, and recent JV call-up Carlin Green poured in bucket after bucket. The Bobcats did not score in the quarter until a minute left.
For the night, Sauceda led the Panthers with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Ray added 10 points, 10 rebounds, and chipped in 6 blocks. Isenberg finished with 7 assists and 4 steals, and Rogers had 17 points. In other action on the night, Ingram came back from seven down in the final two minutes and scored with three seconds to go to beat Harper, 55-54.