The Powell High School girls basketball team finished as the runner-up at the 3A West Regional Basketball Tournament in Pinedale over the weekend. The Lady Panthers (17-7) beat Pinedale on Thursday, 44-25, and Lander on Friday, 55-44, before losing 43-39 to Star Valley in Saturday’s championship.
“Very proud of them; being regional runner-ups is great,” said PHS head coach Scott McKenzie. “We’re excited to go to state.”
Lady Panthers 44, Pinedale 25
In the first round game on Thursday evening, Powell, seeded No. 1 in the 3A West North Quadrant, tipped off against the No. 4 seed in the south quadrant, Pinedale.
The team “took control right away and just kind of increased our lead each quarter,” coach McKenzie said.
The Lady Panthers led 10-6 after the first quarter and increased the lead to 19-12 at the half.
The Lady Panthers held the Lady Wranglers (3-21) to just five points in the third quarter to lead 30-17 going into the final period. They won 44-25.
“It was a good first-round game for us,” coach McKenzie said. ”Everyone got in and got some time and did good things for us.”
Rachel Bonander had 20 points and 15 rebounds (10 defensive and five offensive) as well as six blocked shots.
Aubrie Stenerson also scored in double digits, netting 15 points to go along with two blocked shots and five rebounds.
The Lady Panthers finished the game with only 12 turnovers, which, in a first-round game against the home team, “is really good,” coach McKenzie said. PHS also recorded 13 steals and 15 assists.
Eight Lady Panthers had at least one steal. Maddy Hanks led with three, Katie McKenzie, Karlie McKenzie and Bonander had two apiece and Ashtyn Heny, Jasmyne Lensegrav, Stenerson and Michele Wagner each had one.
Stenerson and Karlie McKenzie led with four assists each, Katie McKenzie had three, Lensegrav with two and both Hanks and Heny had one.
The Lady Panthers shot 13 percent at the 3-point line, 50 percent inside the arc and 71 percent from the free throw line.
Lady Panthers 55, Lander 44
The win over Pinedale placed Powell in the semi-final game against Lander (8-16) on Friday.
Lander was seeded No. 3 in the North and had beaten Mountain View, the No. 2 seed in the South, 50-44.
The Lady Panthers jumped out to a 16-9 first quarter lead and was up 28-18 at the half.
In the third quarter, Powell increased its lead to 40-25 and went on to win 55-44.
“A really good semi-final game for us,” coach McKenzie said. “Lander made a couple runs at us and [I] was really proud of how we responded to those and increase the lead.”
Coach McKenzie added “we did a great job just defensively holding them to just two threes.” The Lady Tigers had put up eight to nine 3-pointers in the prior game against Mountain View.
Powell made a total of four baskets from behind the arc — three from Karlie McKenzie and one from Katie McKenzie.
Stenerson led with 15 points, while Karlie McKenzie and Bonander finished with 14 points apiece.
The Lady Panthers shot 36 percent from the arc, 52 percent inside the arc and 63 percent at the charity stripe. Powell had 18 assists, 10 steals and 11 turnovers.
“Eleven turnovers in the semi-final game is very good,” said a “very impressed” coach McKenzie. “The girls really took good care of the ball.”
In assists, Hanks led the team with four. Karlie McKenzie, Katie McKenzie and Stenerson had three apiece, while Heny and Lensegrav each finished with two. Bonander had one assist.
Karlie McKenzie led the team in steals with four, Hanks had three and finishing with one each were Katie McKenzie, Stenerson and Bonander, who also blocked two shots.
On the boards, Bonander led with eight — five on defense and three on offense — Stenerson had seven and Hanks had five.
“We had good play from our bench in this game. Again, everyone contributed,” said coach McKenzie, adding that “the girls played hard — they really wanted that second win.”
A loss would have placed them in a loser-out game the next morning. With the win, the Lady Panthers headed to the evening championship game against Star Valley (13-10).
Star Valley 43, Lady Panthers 39
Star Valley entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed in the south, but upset top-seeded Lyman (22-2 overall) in the semi-finals, 54-49, to advance to the championship.
After the first quarter, the Lady Panthers led 16-9.
“We came out on fire,” coach McKenzie said.
The team led 23-17 at halftime and remained up 32-25 after three quarters of play.
With about three minutes remaining, however, the Lady Braves tied the game at 34 and then took the lead. Star Valley went on to win 43-39.
“This one ended up writing itself, the opposite of the regular season,” said coach McKenzie. “We led all the way and Star Valley came and took it from us in the fourth quarter.”
When Powell and Star Valley met on Feb. 3, the Lady Braves had been up the entire game until Karlie McKenzie hit a last second 3-pointer to force overtime; Powell went on to win.
On Saturday, “we just gave them 18 points in the fourth quarter — which is way too many,” said coach McKenzie. “They just got the momentum.”
The Lady Panthers also found themselves in foul trouble and missed some easy, close shots that had fallen during the previous two games of the regional tournament.
Heny led PHS in scoring, with 12 points on four 3-pointers.
“The bench did a great job for us again in this game,” coach McKenzie said.
Stenerson had seven points and both Hanks and Bonander finished with six.
Powell made six shots from the arc, including the four from Heny and one each from Katie and Karlie McKenzie.
The Lady Panthers shot 40 percent at the 3-point line, 29 percent on 2-point shots and 64 percent at the free throw line.
For rebounding, Bonander led with eight — split evenly between offense and defense, to go along with three blocked shots. Stenerson had six boards and finishing with five defensive boards apiece were Karlie McKenzie and Katie McKenzie.
Hanks, Katie McKenzie, Heny and Stenerson all had two assists.
The Lady Panthers had 13 turnovers.
Coach McKenzie said it was “really kind of neat” that both Karlie McKenzie and Ashtyn Heny each had a breakout game at regionals.
“So as you head to state, we’ve had six girls now throughout the course of the season break out in the scoring so that really is a good thing as you head to the state tournament — having girls that know they can score for you,” he said.
The first game of the 3A State Championships will be against Worland (11-12) Thursday morning at 9 a.m.
Powell has played Worland three times this season, with Powell winning two of the three encounters. The one Lady Warriors win came on Feb. 20 in the Panther Gym, and coach McKenzie said his team wants to “avenge that loss,” and is “looking forward to the game.”
The Lady Panthers are seeded No. 2 from the West; the last time the team held that seed, in 2015, Powell went on to win the state championship title.
“We like where we are,” said coach McKenzie. “Douglas is on our side of the bracket but you’re going to have to beat good teams now at this point in the year.”
For the West side of the bracket, Star Valley is No. 1, Powell is No. 2, Lyman is No. 3 and Cody (12-13) is No. 4. On the East side of the bracket, Douglas (24-0) is No. 1, Buffalo (20-6) is No. 2, Worland is No. 3 and Rawlins (14-11) is No. 4.
“We have 10 girls who have a role for us and can do things for us at any given time,” coach McKenzie said. “We are excited to do what we need to do to be successful at state.”