SUGAR CITY – It was the final non-conference game of the regular boys’ basketball season for the Snake River Panthers and they faced an old nemesis in the Diggers from Sugar-Salem and had to do it on the road Wednesday.

In the midst of closing out the regular season before heading into the District 5 tournament, the game really meant very little other than to get the correct mindset for the conference season finale today, again on the road, but this time at arch rival Marsh Valley.

With the luck of the tie-breakers already in place, the Panthers have clinched the top seed and host responsibilities for the district tournament, but you still want to go into a big game like that in the right frame of mind. It will be the second consecutive senior night that the Panthers will be playing, with the other team being the ones celebrating their seniors. Not an easy thing to do.

This time around, it was a close game, as was expected, but it also had some neat moments within the game.

One of those moments came in the closing seconds of the game, when senior team manager Kimball Miller came off the bench and scored a basket for the Diggers.

“He has Down syndrome and has been our manager for four years,” Sugar-Salem coach Shawn Freeman said. “The crowd was awesome … it was an amazing moment. I’m still overwhelmed.”

The game began as most expected it would, as a tough battle between two teams who will likely be headed to the state tournament.

The opening quarter saw the Panthers claim an early lead and hold it until the buzzer sounded after eight minutes of play. The score at the break was 12-11.

That is when the offense for the Panthers went to sleep. They would only score three points in the second quarter and an additional nine points in the third, while the Diggers would put up 25 to take control of the game.

The only thing that helped the Panthers at all during that stretch was that the Diggers had trouble scoring in the second period as well, only netting seven points.

With the Diggers in control after three quarters, they did manage to top the Diggers in the fourth period by one point at 18-17, but the damage had already been done.

SUGAR-SALEM 53, SNAKE RIVER 42

Snake River 12 3 9 18 — 42

Sugar-Salem 11 7 18 17 — 53

SNAKE RIVER — Treyton Young 9, Michael Ibarra 2, Noah Watt 12, Cody Anderson 2, Chandler Coombs 5, Trey Poulter 6, Bridger Wray 6.

SUGAR-SALEM — Crew Clark 1, Tanner Harris 11, Mason Guymon 2, Braxton Ostermiller 5, Hadley Miller 11, Kimball Miller 2, Rylan Bean 6, Pasen Michaelson 9, Kyler Handy 6.