By Randy Arrington
SHENANDOAH, Jan. 31 — Depth and endurance. The Page County Panthers have both, and they will need them as they push toward a highly anticipated postseason.
“It’s like my old coach Stan Price used to say… and he just told me this up in the stands… we’re peaking at the right time,” Panthers head coach Russ Rodriguez said after a key Bull Run District win over Strasburg.
Hitting the court for their third game in just five days, the Panthers showed grit down the stretch in the 65-56 win over the Rams.
Strasburg only missed one shot in the first five minutes, but Page outran their opponents down the floor and jumped to a 20-15 lead after the first frame. The gap narrowed to a single point by halftime, and it remained that way though the third period and most of the fourth.
The back-and-forth battle — with at least a dozen lead changes in the second half — broke open in favor of the Panthers in the final two minutes.
“We had three games this week, and we didn’t play that well versus Rapp [on Wednesday], so we took it easy in practice on Thursday,” Rodriguez said. “That gave us another gear in the fourth quarter. We were working hard, and we had that endurance late in the game.”
And once again, the Panthers put their depth on display with three players in double-digits.
“We have any of 11 guys that can step up and perform at a high level,” Coach Rodriguez said.
Over the three-game stretch, senior forward Chase Combs scored a total of 69 points — 26 in the win over Strasburg and 30 versus Rapp on Wednesday. Senior Trey Knight III recorded 43 points over the three games, scoring consistently 15, 14 and 14 last week.
Senior Logan Rangel put up a team-high 21 points in the Panthers 81-56 win over East Hardy last Monday.
Senior Trevor Williams, junior Freddy Stidham and sophomore Ricky Campbell have provided consistent scoring as well.
The Panthers are one week from the postseason sitting firmly at No. 2 in the bull Run District (undefeated East Rock sits on top). Page is No. 6 in the Region 2B power rankings.
After the last two consecutive seasons ended at 10-13, the Page County Panthers — now 10-1 in the district and 13-6 overall — are hoping for a seat at the state tournament.
“We started the season with three goals — a winning record, a district championship and getting to the state tournament,” Rodriguez said. “Last week [Strasburg] was ahead of us, now, we’re ahead of them… we’re peaking at the right time.”
In Junior Varsity action, the Panthers defeated the visiting Rams 54-48.