Lady Panthers’ win streak at three

Wins over Pinedale, Big Piney highlight weekend

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The Powell High School girls’ basketball team ran their win streak to three games over the weekend, rallying late to beat Pinedale Friday 39-30, then routing Big Piney 33-9 Saturday at Panther Gym.

“It was a good weekend for us” said Lady Panthers head coach Scott McKenzie. “We struggled shooting a little bit in both games, but we did the things we had to to win.”

Lady Panthers 39, Pinedale 30

After winning a low-scoring (29-21) win against Pinedale during the season’s opening weekend, the Lady Panthers (10-5, 2-1 in 3A Northwest) were looking for a little more offense against the Lady Wranglers (8-10, 1-2 in 3A Southwest) in Friday’s rematch.

But both teams struggled offensively in the first half, and with Rachel Bonander unavailable for the game, the Lady Panthers shot just 4-of-15 from the floor. Pinedale shot even worse, finishing 3-for-18, and Powell held a slim 13-8 lead at the half. Devon Curtis was a bright spot for Powell at the charity stripe, hitting on three of four shots, while Aubrie Stenerson led all scorers with four points.

The second half was a different story, with both teams settling into an offensive groove. Stenerson sank three of four free throws to start the second half. Powell had a scare after senior Karlie McKenzie hit the court hard after a foul, but she returned to the game just a short time later. A basket by Curtis and a 3-pointer by Ashtyn Heny gave Powell a 21-17 lead.

Pinedale battled back, however, taking a 22-21 lead into the fourth quarter. It was back and forth after that, with Pinedale leading 28-27 with just under three minutes left. But the Lady Wranglers would score just two more points after that as Powell took over. The Lady Panthers went on a 12-2 run to close out the game, winning 39-30. The PHS squad went 12-for-15 at the free throw line in the fourth quarter to clinch the victory.

“What I was most impressed with was when Pinedale went ahead there at the end of the third quarter, I thought we did a great job of keeping our composure,” coach McKenzie said. “We didn’t let it rattle us.”

He noted a key drive to the hoop by Heny, in which she made the basket and drew a foul. Although she missed the free throw, Powell got the rebound and the putback for a 4-point play.

“That really got us rolling again, momentum-wise,” the coach said.

Stenerson paced the Lady Panthers with 15 points, to go along with four rebounds, three assists and three steals. She went to the line 10 times and sank nine, all in the second half.

With Bonander unavailable, Curtis made the most of the opportunity, scoring nine points and grabbing nine boards.

“What a good game for Devon [Curtis],” coach McKenzie said, noting that she went 7-for-10 from the line.

“That was super,” he said. “Free throws were definitely the difference in that game.”

Heny followed with five points and five rebounds, while Brea Terry netted three. Katie McKenzie finished with three points and five rebounds. Karlie McKenzie and Jasmyne Lensegrav chipped in two points apiece.

“I thought all of the girls stepped up and filled the voids all weekend,” coach McKenzie said. “I was really pleased with the team effort. Our defense was spot-on.”

He thinks his squad is giving up the fewest points per game of any team in Class 3A.

Lady Panthers 33, Big Piney 9

This is Big Piney’s first season in 3A, and without a single senior on the roster, the team’s inexperience showed. Powell rolled to a 33-9 win over the winless Lady Punchers (0-16, 0-3 in 3A Southwest).

“Big Piney did a nice job of slowing the game down,” coach McKenzie said. “But again, free throws really were a key for us, as was cutting our turnovers down to 10 for the game.”

The halftime score reflected that slower pace of basketball, with the Lady Panthers leading 8-5 at the break. Powell managed just a single point in the second quarter, a free throw by Katie McKenzie. She and Stenerson led the team in the first half with four points apiece.

The Lady Panthers opened things up a bit in the second half while holding Big Piney to just four points.

“Our girls take a lot of pride in their defense,” coach McKenzie said. “I also thought we attacked the basket much better in the second half. We told the guards they needed to do a better job than that, and they responded well.”

Karlie McKenzie jump-started Powell’s offense in the third with a 3-pointer, and Stenerson took over in the fourth, scoring 10 points.

For the game, Stenerson finished with 16 points, adding four rebounds and four steals. Katie McKenzie netted seven points, followed by Karlie McKenzie with five, Jasmyne Lensegrav with four and Tenna Desjarlais with one.

Karlie McKenzie led the team in rebounds with five.

“I thought all the girls did a great job once again,” coach McKenzie said. “It was just a good team win.”

Curtis and Lensegrav were given the start for the game.

“Those girls deserve to hear their names on the loudspeaker,” coach McKenzie said. “They’ve worked hard to earn that right, and Saturday was a great day to do that. It’s nice to get every senior to hear their name at least once during the season.”

The Lady Panthers are on the road Friday to Thermopolis (5-10, 0-3 in 3A Northeast), a team they’ve already beaten this season.

“I think they [Thermopolis] will play a little bit better this time around. They play hard and they’re scrappy,” coach McKenzie said. “It’s been a while since we’ve played in Thermopolis, we haven’t been in that gym for many years. It will be a good test.”

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