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While youthful mistakes continue to hamper Belgrade, first-year head coach Luke Powers noted his team continues to improve.

A tough second quarter cost the Panthers in a 66-49 Eastern AA defeat to Billings West Friday, while a slow start was too much to overcome Saturday in a 57-40 loss to Billings Skyview.

“Once again, proud of the effort during a difficult three-game week because of the makeup game with (Great Falls) CMR,” said Powers. “We’re vastly improved, but have to continue to work to get over the hump.”

West led 17-11 after the first quarter, but Belgrade scored just six points in the second and trailed by 13 at halftime. The Panthers were unable to cut into the deficit in the second half despite Wyatt Russell scoring 15 of his 17 points after intermission.

“We struggled from another weak quarter and it kept us out of the game,” said Powers. “The boys played hard and we had good moments, but we’re still not able to put together a full 32 minutes of good play.”

Ta’Veus Randle finished with a game-high 19 points for Belgrade, while West’s Neil Daily also tallied 19.

Saturday, the Panthers trailed by 10 after the first quarter and 11 at halftime. While they chipped away at the deficit in the second half led by Randle, Skyview held on for the win.

“We played well and competed, but we had a really slow start and had to play catch up all game,” Powers said. “We had it down to nine in the third quarter, but just couldn’t climb all the way back.”

Randle led all scorers with 23 points, while Kade Schlauch and Russell combined for 14.

Belgrade (1-11) returns to action Tuesday at Bozeman before wrapping up the regular season hosting Gallatin Thursday.

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