By Randy Arrington
SHENANDOAH, Jan. 22 — Once again the Page County Panthers spread out its scoring, with six players contributing six points or more in a double-digit win over rival Luray in front of a packed house.
The victory keeps the Panthers (9-6, 7-1) in the hunt for the Bull Run District crown, with their only loss coming to East Rockingham on Jan. 15.
The win over the Bulldogs also keeps a special streak alive for a special group of PCHS seniors.
“This game is always big, but it’s especially big for these seniors,” PCHS head coach Russ Rodriguez said after the game. “I’ve had some of these seniors since they were in 8th grade, and they have never lost to Luray.”
After trailing 13-5 at the end of the first quarter, the Bulldogs matched the Panthers with 13 apiece in the second frame — but Page maintained an eight-point advantage heading to the locker room.
Despite trailing by double-digits most of the second half, Luray continued to play hard and made a push in the final frame.
“We fight,” LHS head coach Matt Huff said following the road loss. “I keep telling our guys that if we keep fighting, and keep playing hard, we are going to put ourselves in opportunities to win games.”
The Bulldogs (1-14, 1-7) have been competitive in many of their games this season, despite their record. But mistakes have come at bad times.
“That’s the story of our season,” Coach Huff said. “We’re a young team, but we’re getting better. It’s night and day difference from last year, and we’re going to keep working.”
LHS senior guard Dylan Atkins led the Bulldogs in scoring with 13, followed by senior guard Tyler Sommers with 12 points.
For the Panthers, only East Rockingham has a better record in the Bull Run and their expectations are high for the postseason.
“These guys are not selfish,” Coach Rodriguez said of a team known for spreading the ball around. “We’re a family… we were the first to start saying family… we’ve been saying ‘family’ since 1998… Coach Steve Epps started that.”
For seniors Trevor Williams, Logan Rangel, Freddy Stidham, Trent Kite, Trey Knight III, Chase Combs and Wyatt Hensley — this is a last shot at a deep postseason run after playing together since the 8th grade.
In the rivalry game against Luray, Combs lead the Panthers with 10 points, followed by Williams and junior Canaan Pierce with nine, sophomore Ricky Campbell with eight, Rangel had seven, and sophomore Dylan Hensley posted six.
For a team with a deep senior roster, a deep bench and can have a different leading scorer in each game, the expectations continue to grow.
“After having these guys for so long, it’s nice to see it coming together,” Coach Rodriguez said. “We have high aspirations for the end of the season.”
~ In Junior Varsity action for the evening, Page defeated Luray 45-37.