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Sports

Lady Panthers champions again!

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Powell's Desiree Murray pushes her way up a hill during Class 3A state cross country action this past Saturday in Douglas. Murray, a junior, was part of her second state championship team, placing 14th in the race. Courtesy photo/Brendan Burnett-Kurie, Douglas Budget

Powell girls run to third state title in five years

What started out as possibly the worst day of the 2010 cross country season ended as undeniably its best on Saturday. The Powell High School girls' cross country team battled through a steady rain and a talented field of 72 runners to capture the Class 3A state championship trophy in Douglas.

The state title marked the third 3A title in the past five years for the Panther girls.

Powell boys take third at state meet

After poor regional meet, Panthers find redemption

A disappointing regional finish provided all the motivation the Powell High School boys' cross country team needed on Saturday in Douglas. After placing fifth the previous week in Lyman, the Panthers rebounded nicely, wrapping up their season with a third-place finish at the 3A state championships.

“It was nice to see after how hard they worked the previous week,” said Powell cross country coach Cliff Boos. “They really wanted to go out and show that they were capable of running better than they had the week before. You could just see the focus they had this week getting ready.”

Panthers open playoffs at home

Team dispatches Lander with ease

An expected slugfest between two schools battling for home-field advantage in the first round of the 3A football playoffs turned into a decidedly one-sided affair on Friday night. The Powell Panthers, unranked for the first time all season, cruised to a 21-7 victory over Lander.

The Panthers host Riverton this Friday at 7 p.m. in the Class 3A quarterfinals.

“I thought the kids played well,” said Panther football coach Jim Stringer. “Our secondary in particular played very well in shutting down a fairly prolific receiver in number 13 (Lander junior Tanner Simpson).”

In reality, it wasn't just Simpson that the Panthers' defensive backs shut down. For yet another Friday night, Powell's secondary put the clamps on an opponent's entire passing playbook.

Lander completed just six of 26 passing attempts for 91 yards. Four of those six completions and all but 11 of the passing yards came on Lander's final possession of the game.

Powell intercepted Lander quarterback Austin Roberts three times in the contest. Junior Olie Olson was responsible for two of those picks as he ran his state-leading interception count for the season to eight.

Offensively, junior Josh Cragoe scored all three of Powell's touchdowns on the night. Cragoe opened the scoring eight minutes into the contest, taking a third-and-11 pass 18 yards for a score. Eight minutes later, the junior appeared to take the identical play 43 yards for a score, hurdling a Lander defender in the process.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Cragoe broke off a 16-yard run for Powell's final touchdown. Junior placekicker Cody Wichman was a perfect 3-for-3 on his point-after attempts as Powell raced for a 21-0 lead.

“We did what we had to do,” Cragoe said of the team's performance. “We made the plays when we needed to.”

Lander didn't crack the scoreboard until 2:08 remained to be played.

For the game, Cragoe accounted for 163 of the 354 offensive yards amassed by the Panthers. The junior carried the ball 11 times for 61 yards. He also hauled in a half-dozen Keithen Schwahn passes for 102 yards.

“In all honesty, we gameplanned to get him involved because we knew he was capable of having this sort of night,” said Stringer. “We used some different offensive strategies to take advantage of their aggressive defensive ends by running some screens and some veer stuff. We knew if we could find ways to get the ball to him, that he'd be successful.”

Schwahn finished the contest with 196 passing yards. The junior signal caller was 10-for-16 through the air with two touchdowns and one interception. Senior Colby Gilmore, back in uniform after missing some playing time nursing an ankle injury, came in and provided a spark with 34 yards on six carries.

Defensively, Olson led the charge with 19 points, buoyed by his two interceptions. The junior also had four unassisted tackles to show for a night where the Panthers' defense held Lander to just 208 yards of offense.

Cragoe added an 18-point night with Powell's other interception and three solo and five assisted tackles. Vince Sleep was the only other Panther defender to reach double figures in defensive points. Sleep, who entered the game leading Wyoming in defensive points per game, ended with 12 points on one solo and eight assisted tackles. Sleep also had a pass breakup to his credit.

The Panthers host Riverton this Friday in a 7 p.m. state quarterfinal game. The winner will face the winner of the Douglas-Star Valley game being played that same day. Cody hosts Wheatland and Buffalo hosts Lander in the state's other 3A quarterfinal contests.

“It is really nice to have another home game,” said Stringer. “We don't have a problem with going anywhere to play anyone, but it's a great opportunity for our fans to watch us play and for our kids, especially the seniors, to have another chance to play at home.”

Gates to the stadium will open at 6 p.m. on Friday. Since the contest is a Wyoming High School Activities Association contest, admission will be charged at $5 for adults and $3 for students.

The Panthers knocked off Riverton by a 13-10 count to open the regular season.

“It's always harder to beat a team the second time,” Stringer said. “We'll have to gameplan hard and treat them like a new opponent. A lot changes over eight weeks. They're a different team than what they were when they came here in early September and we're a different team from then too."

Playoff Information

Friday, Oct. 29
Riverton (5-3) at Powell (5-3)
Class 3A quarterfinals
Kickoff 7 p.m., Gates open at 6 p.m.
Admission: $5 for adults, $3 for students.

NWC stumbles into tournament

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Legofi Crawford tracks in on a Western Nebraska play during regular-season play by Northwest College. The Trapper soccer teams open Region IX play on Friday against LCCC in Scottsbluff, Neb. Tribune photo by Kevin Kinzey

Trapper soccer enters post-season on a slide

The Northwest College men's and women's soccer teams wrapped up their first regular seasons over the weekend with a series of one-sided defeats. The Trapper women dropped a 4-0 contest at nationally-ranked Laramie County Community College. The Trapper men also dropped a 4-0 contest at LCCC before also falling 3-1 at Otero.

Both teams will face LCCC in Region IX semifinal contests this Friday in Scottsbluff, Neb.

Lady Panthers open tourney with Jackson

The Powell Lady Panthers will take on Jackson to open their quest to return to the state volleyball tournament.

The Lady Panthers, who finished the Northwest Conference season tied with Cody for second, have been seeded third in the regional tounament.

PHS girls among 3A frontrunners

A cross country season cluttered with meet championship and runner-up finishes culminates this Saturday as the Powell Panthers line up for the 2010 state cross country meet in Douglas. The Panther girls will race at approximately 11:10 a.m. Powell's boys are scheduled to depart the starting chute at 1 p.m.

As a school, Powell will be looking to return with possession of a state team trophy from its eighth consecutive state cross country appearance.

“We appreciate being able to come each year and be competitive,” said Panther coach Cliff Boos. “It's pretty amazing how kids have been able to funnel in year after year and we've been able to maintain some consistency.”

In recent years, it has been the Panther girls' squad that has carried the banner for the community. The Powell girls own two of the last four state titles and have also garnered a state runner-up and a third-place trophy as they prepare to capture a top-three finish for the fifth straight year.

“It will probably come down to us and Jackson, just like at regionals,” said Panther senior Kassey MacDonald.

MacDonald has found herself an increasingly popular person among her teammates this week. As the lone senior on the Panther girls' squad, she's the only member of her team to have actually set foot on the Douglas course that will host Saturday's state meet.

“I ran there as a freshman, so people have been asking me what the course is like,” MacDonald said.

One of those listening most intently to MacDonald's insights this week is junior teammate Desiree Murray. In addition to being a key cog in Powell's title aspirations this weekend, Murray will be looking to earn all-state honors for a third straight season.

“I definitely have expectations,” Murray said. “I want to keep it going and do it (earning all-state recognition) for all four years.”

In order to do that, the team will have to ward off the challenge presented by a Cody team that's been nipping at its heels for much of the regular season. They'll also need to close an eight-point gap with Jackson.

“At regionals, we didn't keep with Jackson as well as we should have,” MacDonald said. “They tend to go out fast whereas we're a little slower. We need to remind ourselves early not to chase.”

“We've been extremely fortunate that everyone stayed healthy with such a small group,” Boos said of the the girls' team, which had just seven runners on its roster for much of the season until the late addition of Alyssa Hildebrand, who placed 37th at the regional meet.

In reality, though, that group has been even smaller. Injuries prevented junior Alyssa Rodriguez from competing in a meet this year. Freshman Carly Klein was similarly shelved for a significant chunk of the year. As a result, Hildebrand will line up at state to provide the squad with an important insurance runner in the event of a mishap on the course.

“The girls have a good chance if they can run like they're capable,” said Boos. “It's been neat to see how the kids have pulled closer and closer time-wise to each other throughout the year.”

On the boys' side, the word of the week appears to be redemption. After growing accustomed to a spot in the top two for much of the year, the Panthers staggered back from the 3A West meet in Lyman last Friday with an uncharacteristic fifth-place finish.

“I think we went out too fast at Lyman trying to keep up with the pack,” said junior Bodie Friday, who narrowly missed earning all-conference honors last week. “I don't think we were ready to run a flat course like what we had down there.”

That shouldn't be an issue this week as the Panthers return to the terrain-changing environment they're accustomed to seeing the bulk of the season.

“There's a lengthy uphill section on the Douglas course,” Boos said. “The kids have to run up it twice as the course loops back to that section.”

“I'm excited for Saturday,” said the Panthers' John Kissner, one of eight seniors on Powell's 2010 roster. “We were disappointed at our performance last week and we're putting a lot of effort into practice this week to make sure it doesn't happen again. If we can keep our heads in it and not get caught up in the moment, I think we've got a good chance to do well.”

In addition to making amends for a fifth-place regional finish, the Panther boys will also be looking to improve upon last year's seventh-place team finish at the 3A championships. To do both, they'll have to rely on a lineup that doesn't feature any favorites for individual state honors.

“Our strength is really that we're a great team,” said Friday. “We just go out there and we stick together. We get in a group and just run, and that really helps.”

The Panthers' work ethic has also helped the group throughout the season according to Boos.

“All the kids have really worked hard in practice,” said the Panthers' head coach. “That's really what has stood out about this group. They've stayed focused and they compete well, but they've also had fun practicing and just being together as a team. Hopefully we'll get to Douglas and they'll do the best they can, because they certainly deserve it.”

Lady Panther spikers sweep Worland

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Becky Dent tips a ball over a Worland block attempt for a point as Olivia Rogers (11) covers a possible return. Dent contributed five kills to the Lady Panthers' 3-0 sweep of the Lady Warriors.Tribune photo by Don Amend

The Powell Lady Panthers will take some positive energy into this weekend's regional volleyball tournament thanks to a convincing win over Worland last week.

The Lady Panthers got off to a fast start with a dominating win in the first set, then fought off comeback attempt by the Lady Warriors in game two.

Ladies second at cross country 3A West

Three Panther runners named all-conference at regionals

Three Panther runners achieved all-conference status while the team as a whole placed second to Jackson at the 3A West conference cross country meet in Lyman last Friday. Powell travels to Douglas this Saturday to line up in pursuit of a possible 3A state title.

“We're in good shape for the state meet,” said Panther cross country coach Cliff Boos. “They have a good chance to do well for themselves in Douglas.”

Panthers fall to rival Cody

Home field on the line Friday

The second-ranked Cody Broncs captured both the 3A West conference title and bragging rights in the annual Park County rivalry at the expense of No. 5 Powell on Friday night. A slow start to the second half sent the Panthers to a 27-14 loss.

Cody picked off Powell quarterback Keithen Schwahn three times in the second half of Friday's game, returning one of the interceptions for a touchdown. The Broncs used the giveaways to keep the Panthers pinned deep in their own territory. Powell's average starting field position in the second half was its own 23.

The Broncs combined the field position advantage with a stingy defense to transform a 10-7 halftime lead into a comfortable 27-7 affair in the second half. During that stretch, the Panthers picked up just two first downs offensively, one of which came via a roughing the kicker penalty.

After returning their first interception for a touchdown less than two minutes into the second half, Cody was back on the scoreboard four minutes later, capping a six-play drive with a 22-yard touchdown pass. The Broncs would go on to add a 26-yard field goal with just over nine minutes remaining in the game to stretch their lead to 20 points.

The Panthers weren't able to really get moving in the second half until late in the fourth quarter. A 61-yard Schwahn-to-Tyler England completion resulted in the Panthers' lone second-half score. The play, which came with 2:21 remaining in the contest, also was responsible for more than half of Powell's post-intermission offense.

Cody pounced on the Panthers' onside kick attempt and was able to run out the clock.

The one-sided nature of the second half removed a little bit of the luster from a stellar first-half defensive effort by the Panthers. Powell set the tone early by forcing a fumble on the opening kickoff and rarely let up through the first two quarters.

After watching Cody connect on its first pass attempt of the game —a quick 5-yard route —the Panthers' linebackers and secondary forced the Broncs to misfire on their next 10 passing attempts. Cody would not complete another throw until the waning seconds of the first half as the Panthers sagged back in prevent defense.

Cody struggled to gain just 101 yards of offense in the first half against the Panthers' defense. More than half of that total came on a four-play, 51-yard touchdown drive late in the first half. The Broncs' only other first-half score came on a safety after a stellar 41-yard punt pinned the Panthers inside their own 1.

Powell's only score of the first half came on a four-play, 53-yard drive late in the first quarter. After hooking up with Billy Cummings for a 17-yard strike and England on a 32-yard completion to get the ball inside the Cody 10, Schwahn turned disaster into diamonds by recovering a wayward shotgun snap some 15 yards in the backfield and weaving through traffic for what, on the books, went down as an 8-yard touchdown run.

For the game, Powell finished with 219 yards of offense. Schwahn went 10-for-21 through the air for 160 of those yards. He also carried the football 15 times for 40 yards. England, who took a second-half reverse for an 11-yard gain, was the only other Panther to gain more than 10 yards along the ground as Powell had just 59 rushing yards to show for its 33 carry attempts.

The loss drops the Panthers to 4-3 overall this season. Powell is 2-2 in the conference, a record that opens a world of possibilities for this Friday's regular-season finale against Lander.

The Panthers are assured of a place in the playoffs following the results of Friday's other 3A games. Powell can still finish anywhere from the No. 2 to the No. 4 seed out of the 3A West.

“The playoffs start this week,” Panther head coach Jim Stringer told his team just moments after Powell completed its circuit of the post-game handshake line on Friday night. “If we win against Lander, we'll be playing at home in the first-round of the playoffs.”

A loss to the Tigers sends the Panthers on the road to either Buffalo or defending 3A state champion Douglas as either the No. 3 or No. 4 seed. The Panthers' seeding is contingent on the outcomes of the Worland and Star Valley games also being played on Friday night.

Douglas and Buffalo have wrapped up the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds out of the 3A East. Riverton and Wheatland play this Friday, with the winner of that game finishing as the 3A East's No. 3 seed while the loser of that contest nestles in as final East playoff representative.

Panthers sweep final meet

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Junior Desiree Murray (left) and sophomore Tally Wells lead a string of runners up a hill at the Powell Golf Club during the Panthers' final regular-season meet. Both the boys' and girls' teams won team titles at the meet. Tribune photo by Don Amend

PHS preps for conference with home victories

Powell High School's cross country teams revved up for Friday's conference meet in Lyman with a sweep of their home invitational last week. The Panthers proved the fastest teams on the five-kilometer circuit of the Powell Golf Club, placing the top five runners among the first 10 to cross the finish line in both the boys' and girls' races.

Page 212 of 227

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