By Samantha Bonifas
Silver Lake tipped off the boy’s basketball season with a pair of road trip games on December 1st and 2nd. First, The Mustang men traveled to Red Cloud for a conference match-up on Thursday night. The game started at a tug-of-war pace, with the scoreboard going back and forth between a lead for the Mustangs and the Warriors. The Warriors stepped onto the court with a 10-8 lead for the second quarter. Silver Lake struggled to find an offense that was efficient in the second quarter. As the buzzer rang for halftime, the Mustangs were down 21-14. The Mustang men fought their hardest in the second half but lost 56-43.
With a game the next day, Silver Lake quickly regathered to fight for another tough conference match-up against Deshler on Friday. “Losing was rough, but the bigger picture for the team was figuring out our team chemistry. We have a young group. We knew that we had to continue to build our chemistry to fight for our upcoming game on Friday,” said Cody Pankoke, the lone senior of the squad. Silver Lake started the game at a slow pace. The team was set up in a 3-2 defense. The defense allowed lobs to the backside for buckets for the Dragons. Deshler led 25-9 at halftime. The Mustangs utilized the halftime to dig deep into strategies to compete against the Dragons. “We realized that we needed to clean up the little things. We set up a new defense and talked about how we could compete better,” said Pankoke. The team kept high energy and kept making hustle plays throughout the entire second half. The Mustangs cut the Dragon’s lead down to 6 at one point in the fourth quarter. Despite outscoring the Dragons in both the third and fourth quarters, the Mustangs were not able to come back to win. Deshler won with a score of 40-28. Pankoke, a leader on and off the court for the team is proud of the strides that the team made in both games. “We improved in our team connection in both of the games. We started to move together, flow together, and have a connection in our offense. We were together and strengthened our team bond. If we keep building together, we can be a good basketball team,” said Pankoke. First-year head coach Paul Bade is excited about the future of the team. “I can’t say enough of the ‘buy-in’ and effort the players have given from day one. Their willingness to learn and be coached in practice will pay off as we move ahead,” said Bade. “I have to say I’m looking forward to seeing these players experiencing the success they have worked for and deserve. But ultimately, what I look forward to the most is being able to spend most every day with each player on both our varsity and junior varsity teams.” The Mustang men will next face off against Axtell and Elba.