It was a weekend of comebacks, teamwork and heart for the Powell High School boys’ basketball team, as the Panthers opened conference play with a 1-1 record over the weekend.
Powell traveled to Worland on Friday for the Class 3A Northwest conference opener against the No. 5 Warriors. The PHS squad avenged a non-conference loss from a week earlier with a 59-57 victory.
Back at home on Saturday, a sluggish start against No. 2 Lander had the Panthers down by 18 before the home team battled back, pulling within six points before running out of clock. The Tigers escaped with a 64-58 win.
“Lander’s probably one of the best teams in the state, and we played them to six [points],” said PHS head coach Chase Kistler. “The team showed a lot of character this weekend. Both games really revealed what their character is.”
The Panthers host Lovell on Friday, a team that is quietly making some noise in their first season back in 3A. Kistler said he expects it to be a hard-fought game between two teams who’ve been playing against each other since they were old enough to dribble a basketball.
“Lovell is playing really well. They had Lander down by 14 at one point [in a game last week], so they’re playing scrappy,” he said. “They shoot really well, they’re really well coached. It’s going to be a tough game for us; it’s going to be scrappy. Lovell, Rocky, Cody, Powell — these guys grow up with each other, so it’s like a backyard brawl every time we play these guys.”
Panthers 59, Worland 57
Calling Friday’s win against the Warriors “a total team effort,” Kistler said that, despite being down a couple of players, everyone stepped up to the challenge in the 59-57 conference-opening win.
“We were down a guy or two, and it’s always hard to get a win in Worland and that competitive environment,” he said. “Our whole team played well, they just stayed steady throughout the game, and we pulled out a close one, a two-point victory.”
Four Panthers finished in double figures, led by Jesse Brown with 16 points. Landon Lengfelder followed with 14 points, including three 3-pointers, while Carson Heinen netted 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for a double-double. Mason Marchant chipped in 10 points.
Senior Dalton Woodward led the team in assists with four, and tied with teammate Aidan Jacobsen for steals with three.
Lander 64, Panthers 58
Against Lander at home Saturday, the Panthers found themselves in an 18-point hole before fighting back to make it a game.
“If we had hit one or two more shots at the end, it might have been a different story,” Kistler said. “I was worried how much emotion and energy we would have left going into Saturday after the game against Worland the night before. Lander hadn’t played since Tuesday, so they were pretty fresh.”
After sitting out Friday’s game against Worland, senior Kaelan Groves led the Panthers with 20 points against the Tigers, including going 4-for-6 from behind the arc. William Preator and Lengfelder finished with nine points apiece, while Jesse Brown and Mason Marchant each finished with seven points.
“Will Preator is slowly inching his way back in; he’s been kind of quiet the last couple of weeks [and] he’s shown some signs of coming back,” Kistler said. “Landon Lengfelder had his second good game in a row as well.”
Woodward led the team in rebounds with eight, followed by four each from Heinen, Marchant and Brown.