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  • Keith Hjelle

Van Meter Slips by Panorama in Boys' District Final, 57-55

If you are one who likes drama in your sporting events, then you would have loved the district final basketball game between Panorama and Van Meter that was played on Tuesday of last week in Adel.

The two evenly matched teams battled each other for the right to move on to the substate final, and it was a battle royal. There were ten lead changes and three ties. Both teams blew substantial leads. There were contested calls by the officials. It came down to the final seconds to determine the winner. In short, it was just what a drama lover would want!

After the end of the first quarter found the Bulldogs with a one point lead at 12-11, the teams traded baskets through the first half of the second stanza which found Van Meter still ahead by one point at 17-16. Enter Chris Schreck, the Bulldogs leading scorer on the season. The Bulldog junior nailed three treys in the last half of the quarter. Not to be outdone, Panthers Brice Taylor and Zach Rizzuti each countered with three pointers to keep the game close at the halftime break: Van Meter 26, Panorama 23.

Van Meter added to its lead in the opening minutes of the third quarter and led by a 37-30 margin with three minutes left in the quarter. But the Bulldog guns went silent for those final three minutes and the Panthers took advantage.

Evan Taylor got things started with a free throw and a basket. Rizzuti followed up with a two pointer and Lucas Leiferman hit a three ball to complete the rally and put the Panthers up by one at 38-37 heading into the final frame.

The momentum had shifted and the Panthers were on a roll. Panorama opened the quarter by scoring on its first four possessions and claiming a 47-39 lead. The Taylor trio netted all of the points with Drew scoring five and Evan and Brice each coming up with two. The sweet smell of Victory was in the air! But Victory is an elusive entity which knows no master and and is often guilty of being disloyal.

Van Meter responded to the Panther run with one of its own, outscoring Panorama 11-4 over a three minute span to cut the deficit to 51-50 with two minutes remaining. A Drew Taylor basket made it 53-50 with 1:20 showing on the clock.

There was a lot of action in the final eighty seconds of the game. All of the rest of the scoring was done at the free throw line. On three consecutive possessions Van Meter missed shot attempts but rebounded its misses and a Bulldog "big" was fouled on the put back shot. 6'4" Clark Fiala snared the first two misses and converted on all four of his free throw tries. 6'6" Gus Rosener grabbed the third miss and also converted on his two free throw attempts.

In between the Bulldog free throws were two successful freebies by Rizzuti for the Panthers. After Rosener's scores the lead belonged to Van Meter at 56-55. Two shot attempts by Panorama failed to hit the mark and a final free throw by Fiala with four seconds left ended the scoring which showed a Bulldgog win at 57-55.

From a spectator's point of view, this was an fun and exciting game to witness. Plenty of drama along the way in a game played by two quality reams. It doesn't get much better than that for a spectator.

For the Panorama players and coaches this has to be a bitter pill to swallow. If this had been a twenty point loss, it would be easier to accept. But this is the kind of game that lingers in the minds of the losing team's players and coaches. Questions beginning with "If" or "Why" will be asked internally by players and coaches alike. Eventually the questions will subside, and the game will become a memory, but not yet.

Rizzuti led the Panther scoring with 15 points, while Evan Taylor also hit double figures with 10. Leiferman and Drew Taylor each netted 8 points. Unofficial statistics indicate that the Panthers shot 33% from the field on 18 makes out of 54 attempts. The Panthers made 8 three pointers for the night. The team was 12 of 15 from the free throw line for 80% accuracy.

The Bulldog's Schreck led all scorers with 20 points. Van Meter was 19 of 46 from the floor for 41% and hit 13 of 17 free throws for 77%. They connected on 6 treys. By virtue of the win, Van Meter advances to the substate game to play Treynor in the"game to go."

Despite the setback, the Panthers can boast of a very successful season with a record of 18-5. Ten seniors have completed their high school careers for the Panthers including Lucas Leiferman, Ryan Klinge, Evan Taylor, Preston Walker, Domonic Walker, Drew Taylor, Levi Poldberg, Zach Rizzuti, Trent Hambleton, and Evan Neuharth. The school and community both are very appreciative for their contributions to Panther basketball.

Score by quarter:

Panorama 11 12 15 17--55

Van Meter 12 14 11 20--57

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