Panthers stumble on hardwood

Losses to Pinedale, Big Piney have Powell 1-3 in last four games


The cure for the Powell High School boys’ basketball team’s recent woes wasn’t found at home over the weekend, as the team lost back-to-back contests against Pinedale and Big Piney.

Both Class 3A games were hard-fought battles to the end. Pinedale pulled away in the final minutes of Friday’s contest to win 55-46. Rebounding was the issue the following day against Big Piney, as the absence of PHS senior post Carson Heinen due to illness was felt underneath the basket. The Panthers (5-9, 2-1 in 3A Northwest) managed just 19 boards in the contest and lost 48-38.

“It wasn’t what we planned,” PHS head coach Chase Kistler said of the weekend. “We didn’t have Carson [Heinen], and Woody [Dalton Woodward] was a little banged up. The same with Will Preator. It was one of those weekends where everything kind of hit us all at once.”

Pinedale 55, Panthers 46

In the teams’ second meeting of the season, the Wranglers (10-7, 2-1 in 3A Southwest) outlasted Powell 62-55.

“We played a good game, really, against Pinedale. They’re a good team,” Kistler said. “We made some mistakes that kind of cost us, and our shooting was significantly low.”

Friday’s matchup was close throughout, with the two teams knotted up 24-24 at the half. Pinedale created some separation late, however, taking the season sweep with a 55-46 win.

The Panthers kept it a game to start the second half, but their shooting went cold to start the fourth quarter. Powell went 0-for-10 from the field to start the final frame and were unable to regroup.

“I think we shot way too many 3s for the percentage we were shooting,” Kistler said. “It comes down to decision-making — as a team we have to learn what is a good time to take a 3-point shot, and when, if it’s not falling, we have to mix it up and change what we’re doing and still get points on the board. We need to figure out what is the right play at the right time.”

With Heinen ill, the Panthers lacked an inside presence and the Wranglers were able to focus their attention on the guards.

“They’re good shooters,” Kistler said of his guards, “but they have to learn how to create their shots when we don’t have an inside guy to go to.”

Kaelan Groves led the way for the Panthers with 16 points, despite fouling out in the fourth quarter. Mason Marchant followed with 10 points off the bench, while Landon Lengfelder netted seven and Woodward chipped in six.

“Kaelan [Groves] had a good game, and I thought that Mason [Marchant] and Landon [Lengfelder] coming off the bench played pretty well,” Kistler said. “It was kind of a scrappy team effort.”

“We were clawing tooth and nail to get the ball into the bigs and have them be a threat, then work the ball around,” the coach added. “But it really came down to rebounds; we gave up some costly rebounds.”

Though he only scored three points in the contest, Jesse Brown was tasked with shutting down Pinedale’s Danny Gosar, one of the top scorers in the state in 3A. Brown didn’t disappoint, holding Gosar to just a half-dozen points.

“Jesse Brown did a great job on Gosar,” Kistler said. “Six points is pretty amazing to hold that kid to.”

The Panthers were unable to find an answer for Blake Illoway, however, who led all scorers with 20 points.

Big Piney 48, Panthers 38

Against the Punchers (7-9, 1-2 in 3A Southwest) on Saturday, the Panthers fell behind early and never quite caught up, losing to Big Piney 48-38.

“The effort was there. We just settled for the outside shots, settling for one shot then going to the other end,” Kistler said. “We weren’t crashing the boards or getting second-chance points. We were just kind of settling.”

The Punchers held a 29-20 lead at the half. Powell was able to battle back in the third quarter, cutting the lead to 36-30. But Big Piney won the fourth quarter 12-8, handing the Panthers their second straight loss.

Marchant continued to be steady off the bench, leading the Panthers with 11 points, to go along with six rebounds. William Preator and Groves netted six points apiece, while Brown, Woodward and Lengfelder each chipped in four points.

Powell shot well from the charity stripe, sinking 11 of 15. The team struggled on the boards, however, pulling down just 18 for the contest.

“We’ve been averaging in the 30s for rebounds, so this was a game where we weren’t shooting well or rebounding well,” Kistler said.

The Panthers head to Thermopolis (3-13, 0-3 in 3A Northeast) on Friday for a game Kistler calls “a pivotal point of the season.”

“This game is going to try their character and find out who they are,” he said. “Are we going to come back and go back to work on Monday and bounce back, or are you going to do the ‘Oh, woe is me?’ We have the guys and we have the talent to get the job done, we just have to find our rhythm, really. We have to get back to the way we were playing basketball.”

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