The Powell High School girls’ basketball team began conference play on Friday with a win on the road against Worland, 40-30. But despite a hot start against Lander at home Saturday afternoon, the Lady Panthers unraveled in the second half, falling to the Lady Tigers 45-41 at Panther Gym.
“Well, we had one good and one bad,” said Powell head coach Scott McKenzie. “The Lander game still has me shaking my head a little bit.”
The Lady Panthers are now 1-1 in the Class 3A Northwest quadrant, and will host Lovell on Friday.
“I’m confident that these girls will bounce back and play well this Friday,” Coach McKenzie said. “We tell the girls at the beginning of the season that the winter season is a long journey — almost double of what a fall or spring sport is. Teams always seem to lose one they shouldn’t and win one they shouldn’t. I told them the Lander game is that one loss we should have won.”
Lady Panthers 40, Worland 30
Powell senior Aubrie Stenerson paced the Lady Panthers with 18 points while teammate Karlie McKenzie finished with six steals and a pair of assists to lead the team to a 40-30 win on the road against Worland.
“We had a great first half, we got up 21-9 and were able to hold the lead,” Coach McKenzie said. “We slipped a little bit in the fourth quarter, they [Worland] were able to cut it to 10, but we had pretty good control of the game all the way through.”
Rachel Bonander and Ashtyn Heny finished with six points apiece. Bonander proved to be a force underneath the basket on both ends of the floor, pulling down 11 boards. Katie McKenzie had five points, Brea Terry finished with three points and Devon Curtis rounded out the scorers with two points.
The Lady Panthers shot well from behind the arc, sinking five 3-pointers in the contest. Heny hit two, while Katie McKenzie, Stenerson and Terry each made one.
“We were 5-for-12 from the 3-point line, which was good for us,” Coach McKenzie said. “We’ve been struggling with that part of our game this season, but they’re starting to fall.”
He added that the team executed the offense well, especially in the face of a zone defense.
“They [Worland] have three tall girls that were able to sandwich Rachel [Bonander] all night, so that’s what broke loose our perimeter shooting,” Coach McKenzie said. “It was good to go into Worland and get that first conference win. That’s where regionals will be, so it’s good to go there and get some experience on that court.”
Lander 45, Lady Panthers 41
For the first half of Saturday’s home game against Lander, the Lady Panthers were rolling, taking a 27-9 lead into the locker room at half.
But in a contest that became a tale of two halves, Powell struggled to make a shot in the final two frames while the Lady Tigers couldn’t miss, outscoring their hosts 36-14 to earn the 45-41 win.
“Lander caught fire in the second half, hitting six 3-pointers,” Coach McKenzie said. “It was crazy. It was the perfect storm for Lander. They took some risks on offense, and made almost all of them.”
After finishing a perfect 5-for-5 at the charity stripe in the first half, Powell struggled at the line in the second, hitting just 6 of 15 attempts.
“That was a big difference right there,” Coach McKenzie said of the team’s foul shooting. “Things that we had done defensively in the first half, we just didn’t do them as well in the second. There’s no one thing to explain what happened, not hitting free throws ... It was a true team loss, there.”
Stenerson again led the charge for the Lady Panthers with 21 points, to go along with six rebounds and three assists. Bonander followed with 10 points and five boards, while Katie McKenzie finished with five points and four rebounds.
“Rachel [Bonander] and Aubrie [Stenerson] had all 14 points in the second half. We just couldn’t get anything going elsewhere,” Coach McKenzie said. “It was just crazy.”
With wins against Powell and Lovell last week, Lander is now in the driver’s seat in the 3A Northwest conference.
“They [Lander] are kind of the team to beat right now,” Coach McKenzie said. “We had shots against them, we just couldn’t get them to go.”