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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Panthers ready for bi-district round

Feb. 16—The Permian boys basketball team is going into the playoffs with new-found confidence.

Defeating the District 2-6A champions will certainly help.

The Panthers will face El Paso Eastwood in the bi-district round at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Permian Fieldhouse.

Permian (23-9 overall, 8-2 in district) may have finished second in the District 2-6A standings but head coach Justin Flores and his players are feeling like they can play with anybody, especially after beating district winners Wolfforth Frenship 72-70 this past Tuesday on the road.

For the Panthers, it was sweet revenge from their previous meeting with Frenship which resulted in a 78-53 loss back on Jan. 23 at home.

Their other district loss came in a 59-49 defeat to San Angelo Central. "It was one of those deals where we let two games slip away," Flores said. "We had a bad quarter against Frenship and a bad quarter against Central. We wanted to make sure that we split with Frenship for the sake of our psyche. We're happy to have the win and we'll take the second seed and we'll try to get better."

After their loss to San Angelo Central, the Panthers have since been on a roll, beating Midland Legacy (73-45), Midland High (61-34), Odessa High (95-61) and Frenship.

The players are certainly ready to get the playoffs going.

"I have a great team with me," Senior Jamibrione Anderson said. "We're dedicated and ready to win this game. Our heads are on right. We've played well these past four games."

Senior Ben Saldivar said he and his teammates are ready for the next challenge.

"We're pretty excited," Saldivar said. "We're ready to kick it off."

His teammates echoed those thoughts.

"We're very excited," senior Ryale Moses said. "It's been long expected. We're looking forward to it ... I think everyone believes in themselves more and knows that we can play with anybody."

Eastwood (23-10 overall, 12-4 in District 1-6A) enters the game after finishing third in the Troopers' district standings.

"They're a good team and a well-coached team," Flores said. "They're hard to prepare for. They're going to be ready. It should be a good game and a good matchup. I like our chances. But we have to play well and we have to play smart. We'll have to limit our turnovers and if we can do that, I'll like our chances."

Permian's season has seen numerous accomplishments from the Panthers.

After a slow start back in November, the team quickly got going in December, winning the Tall City Oilman's Invitational after going 4-0 over a three-day stretch, defeating Lubbock-Cooper, Amarillo Caprock, El Paso Burges and Fort Stockton.

The Panthers' run continue a few days later with a 46-43 win over Midland Christian and after Christmas, the team defeated Class 5A state-ranked Amarillo Palo Duro on Jan. 5 to close out the nondistrict portion of the schedule.

The Panthers' defense has been the key to their success.

"Our team is built around our defense," Flores said. "Our program here at Permian is built around our defense. It's going to be the key for us from here on out how well we play defense. We're undersized but we have to be tough to win the rebound game."

After a small hiccup in district play, the players are confident they can go deep in the playoffs.

"It's just great that we beat our rival (Odessa High) twice and then beat Frenship," Anderson said. "I feel like we're just ready to go."

Flores is hopeful for a strong crowd in Tuesday's bi-district contest.

"it's exciting," Flores said. "It's exciting for the community. I hope the town of Odessa comes out and supports the kids because it's important for them. It's important for the kids. I hope we have a good crowd."