WENATCHEE — Even though Eisenhower had only one win on the season, they gave the Wenatchee Panthers all they could handle Saturday night. Wenatchee extended the lead several times on the night only to see the Cadets come back.
Early in the game, Wenatchee center, 6-foot-6 Chase Loidhammer, was using his height advantage early on to give the Panthers the lead. Wenatchee led 23-17 in the first quarter.
Loidhammer had 10 points in the first half to help pace Wenatchee to a 34-26 lead.
“I thought Chase did an awesome job of coming out and setting pace down low. He played a lot more aggressive underneath. We’ve been telling him all year, nobody can stop him,” said Wenatchee Head Coach Travis Williams. “It’s one of those things he just needs to realize — nobody can stop him so just be aggressive down there and he did that. He was aggressive from the beginning and kind of set the tone for us. That was huge.”
Eisenhower with some long bomb threes from senior guard Abram Fernandez, pulled to within two points by the end of the third quarter, 49-47.
With the game tied 49-49 in the fourth quarter, Wenatchee went on a 21-8 run to close out the game led by Garrett Long, Nate Blauman, and Loidhammer. The Panthers won 70-55.
“We faced some adversity there and stood up to the challenge. I thought we answered that pretty well in terms of making that run to ice the game. That was nice to see,” Williams said.
Williams said hats off to Eisenhower. He felt they came out and competed really well which made the Panthers earn it. The game plan going in was to get back to fundamentals, trying to get better every possession, especially defensively.
“I’m still not pleased with how much we got beat off the dribble tonight. That is an area we need to focus on in the coming weeks, starting Monday in practice,” Williams said. “We need to do a lot better job containing the dribble because that kind of opened up everything for them and they were able to get some open looks based on that dribble penetration kick out.”
Junior guard Garrett Long scored 17 of his 25 points in the second half. Williams said they have talked to Garrett about shot selection. He wanted him to take better shots because he’s going to get those in the offense.
“He just needs to be patient enough to let them happen,” Williams said of Long. “When you take tough shots, they are not only tough to make, but it’s hard to get yourself into a rhythm when you’re taking those kinds of shots. I think that is what happened against Eastmont. He was pressing a little early in the game and taking some tough shots and was not able to get into a flow early on.”
Senior Chase Loidhammer had 16 points and 11 rebounds. Blauman had 11 points. Fernandez had 21 points for Ike. Senior Dylan Yeager had 11. With the loss, Eisenhower fell to 0-4 in the Big 9 and 1-10 overall.
Next up for the Panthers a key game on the road Friday at West Valley. The Rams are currently setting the pace in the Big 9 at 4-0, 10-2. Wenatchee is 2-2 in the Big 9 and 6-6 overall.
Williams said West Valley will pack things up into a 2-3 zone.
“They have three guys 6-4 to 6-5 and a 7-1 kid. They can really cover a lot of ground in the 2-3,” he said. “The thing that makes them tough is they don’t give you a lot of second-chance opportunities. If you are not making that first shot, you’re not getting too many chances. We’re not going to have much of an advantage down low, so we have to come out and knock some shots down early to keep ourselves in that game.”