WP Boys Basketball Team Facing a Major Rebuild Year

New B-Ball Skipper Touts Big Changes in Program

By Trevor Phipps

Photos By Paul Magnuson

For the last two years, the Woodland Park High School Boys’ Basketball team has impressed fans with stellar play that brought them into the postseason.

Even though the team didn’t quite perform to the point where they were state championship material, vast improvements occurred for a team that struggled with success for a number of years.


However, this season has brought much change to the program with the team getting a new coach and losing seven-star senior players to graduation. The basketball powerhouse, which used to command the hoopster court in Woodland Park, is now working through a rebuilding stage. They are sporting a new system and a young team.


At the time of this writing, the team was sitting at a 2-10 overall record and a 1-6 league mark, placing them  in 12th place in their 4A/3A Tri-Peaks League. But according to the team’s new head coach, Dip Donaldson, playoffs are not yet out of the question.

Following their winter break, the WP b-ball team lost five of six matches, with most of these contests consisting of league games. The games have been close, but the Panthers went on a four-game losing streak after beating Ellicott 61-40 on Jan. 9.

However, the coach still appears optimistic and says he is happy with the team’s improvements. “When I review and study the tapes and get away from the emotion of the game, I see progression,” Donaldson said. “It hasn’t resulted in the number of wins I would like, but the focus is building the team and building the platform that is already existing and improving upon that. Because the foundation of the house is crucial.”


He said that after losing so many star players to graduation last year, the younger players are trying hard to fill some big shoes. They are also working on adjusting to the new style of play, implemented by Coach Donaldson.

The coach did say that he is impressed by the ability of his players to focus on more than just basketball. “The strengths that I have seen is that we do have some good athletes that are multi-sport,” Donaldson said. “That is a strength because they play other sports, they are good at other things, and they are not just focused on basketball only. To me, that’s a strength.”


He cited shooting the ball better as one area of needed improvement. “That takes behind the scenes work and getting into the gym and doing continuous training,” the coach explained. “We have a lack of experienced scorers. That’s the thing we lack the most.”


The coach said that senior point guard Caden Howard is currently the Panther hoopsters’ top scorer. “He is a multi-sport athlete and he is leading the way and showing the way,” Donaldson said.


This week the Panthers play two big matches that could paint the picture of how their season ends. On Tuesday, the team battles the 11-3 Banning Lewis Academy Stallions at home at 7 p.m.


Then on Saturday, the boys hit the road to challenge the 2-9 St. Mary’s Pirates. The team then has three more matches with their last game of the regular season scheduled on the road versus a top rival.  Woodland Park will square off against the 6-7 Manitou Springs Mustangs on Feb. 15.


Lady Panthers Strive to Maintain a Winning Record


On the other hand, the girls’ basketball team this year is doing slightly better than their male counterparts. But the lady hoopsters too are experiencing a year of rebuilding with a new head coach. At the time of this writing, the Lady Panthers had a 7-6 overall record and a 3-5 mark in their 4A/3A Tri-Peaks League. This putting them in ninth place.


The team recently had two big wins to keep them in the playoff competition. Last Monday, they smoked the Mitchell Marauders 52-15. On Tuesday, they defeated the James Irwin Jaguars 46-19.


This week the girls have the same matchups as the boys. They battle the 11-3 Banning Lewis Academy Stallions at home at 6 p.m. They then face the 9-1 St. Mary’s Pirates on the road on Saturday.


The Lady Panthers too, end their season on Feb. 15 on the road against the Manitou Lady Mustangs who are currently 4-9 and sitting right behind the Lady Panthers in their league.