GONZALES — Chance did not favor the Navarro Panthers (15-17) in their District 30-4A play-in game Friday night in Gonzales.
Actually, Lady Luck took a double hit for the Panthers earlier in the week.
Head coach John O’Dell and the Apaches’ coach flipped a coin twice to determine the site of Friday’s game — once for whether the game would be at a neutral site or be played at the home of one of the teams, and then again for which team would host the game.
O’Dell lost both flips.
“I’m not a very good flipper,” O’Dell said after Friday’s 76-47 loss to the Apaches (19-9) in Gonzales. “I refuse to flip a coin for probably the rest of my career.
“One was for whether it would be at a neutral site or at home and I lost that one, then the second flip was for whether it would be at Navarro or here, and I lost that one too — that’s why we’re here.”
The two lost flips meant the Panthers had to travel to Gonzales for Friday’s game, in what is arguably the darkest gym in the state — and the Apaches took full advantage of the home court.
Gonzales came out on fire, hitting about 75% of their shots in the first quarter as they built a 17-point, 27-10 lead after the first period.
After Navarro’s Cooper Guezke hit the first shot of the night for the Panthers, the Apaches went on a 15-0 run to start the game and led early, 15-2.
The Apaches made their first two three-point attempts on the night during the run and scorched Navarro for nine more threes, never letting the Panthers get back in the game.
“They shot it lights out,” O’Dell said. “When you run into a team that’s shooting like that, not very many people can beat them. They outshot us and won the game.”
While the Apaches lit it up, the Panthers struggled offensively, missing several shots from point blank range as the Gonzales defense seemed to contest every shot.
“They were making every basket — and we were not,” O’Dell said. “When a team is shooting like that it’s going to be their night, that’s just kind of the way it is.”
O’Dell went to a trapping press after the Panthers got behind early, but the Apaches successfully beat it often, leading to easy baskets at the rim or open looks on the threes.
“We run the press to be an extension of our defense,” O’Dell said. “We’re not a real quick team, so we try to do things to make you make a mistake here and there, but we’re pretty much going to try and get back in our defense.”
Gonzales outscored the Panthers in the first three quarters, pushing the lead to 26 at the half (44-18), and to 32, 63-31, at the end of the third quarter.
Three straight buckets from Guetzke, Ian Osborne and Preston Grobe cut the lead to 26 to start the fourth quarter, but that was as close as the Panthers would get the rest of the night.
Guetzke led the Panthers with 14 points, while Keegan Pugh added 10 and Grobe and Grant Chase contributed with six points each.
The loss means the Panthers are the No. 4 seed out of District 30-4A and they will face the No. 1 seed out of District 29-4A, Devine (21-10) on Tuesday night in Floresville. The game will be part of a doubleheader, with No. 3 Gonzales taking on No. 2 Hondo in the other game at Floresville High School. Tip-off for the Panthers will either be at 6 or 8 p.m.